We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Patriots Day is an intense, mature drama based on the true story of the April 15, 2013, bombing of the Boston Marathon and the subsequent manhunt to bring down the terrorists who planned it. The bombing scene is extremely gruesome. Viewers will see severed, broken, and bleeding limbs, with blood everywhere. There are also explosions, guns (pistols, automatic weapons), violent shoot-outs, fighting, amputations, etc. Language is also very strong, with constant use of "f--k" and all its permutations, as well as other salty words. Characters are intimate with each other, but there aren't any sex scenes; just hugging and kissing are shown. Characters drink alcohol and smoke, and teens smoke pot, but there are no real consequences. Mark Wahlberg stars in this story, which has underlying themes of courage and perseverance.
What's the story?
In PATRIOTS DAY, is April 15, 2013 -- the day of the Boston Marathon. Police Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) is assigned to patrol the finish line. He complains but tries to do his job well. An enthusiastic crowd is gathered, when suddenly two explosions disrupt the race, and the police spring into action. The wounded are taken to hospitals, and FBI special agent Rick DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) arrives, declaring the bombing an act of terrorism. A command center is set up, and video surveillance is scrutinized until two suspects are found on the tapes. Then the manhunt begins, the biggest clue coming when the culprits steal a Mercedes, and the car's owner escapes and calls the police. After a showdown in Watertown and a citywide lockdown, the city of Boston shows that it won't let hate stand in the way of love.
Is it any good?
For this tense real-life drama, director Peter Berg weaves a wide, vivid tapestry of Boston; it's an admirable feat, but his unrefined techniques grow exhausting after a long 130 minutes. Written by Berg, along with Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer, Patriots Day appears exhaustively researched, drawing on actual stories and events, though somehow making room for a star turn by Wahlberg (His character suffers from a bad knee and has been put on probation; he's exhausted and has seen too much, but keeps going.)
Berg puts it all together, finding the pulse of a city and showing extraordinary moments from ordinary citizens, giving the movie a strong sense of color and community. Yet the nauseating use of hand-held cameras, as well as a kind of constant, droning/thrumming musical score, tends to induce a jittery, squirmy quality rather than genuine suspense. (A documentary might have been better.) It's awfully draining, but the message at the end of the day is that community is powerful and love is stronger than hate; for that, it's worth seeing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Does Sgt. Saunders' speech about love vs. hate make sense? Does the movie effectively illustrate how love conquers hate?
How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers might change the facts in movies based on true stories? Does it make you want to do more research?
- In theaters: December 21, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: March 28, 2017
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan, John Goodman
- Director: Peter Berg
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Drama
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use
Find more movies that help kids build character.
For kids who love true stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.