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The AFI Fest world premiere of Patriots Day took place last night in Hollywood, a little more than three years after the Boston Marathon bombings, the events on which the Mark Wahlberg starrer is based.
“The reaction from the media was that [the movie] was too soon,” said Wahlberg, an outspoken Boston native. “But my feeling was, because things like [the bombing] were happening around us all the time and because the message [of the movie] is so powerful — of people coming together and standing up for love — I thought it wasn’t soon enough.”
Patriots Day takes place in the aftermath of the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon and tracks the subsequent investigation and manhunt to track down the suspects.
“As we were going through the process of trying to get the movie together, there were more instances like [Boston] happening all around the world, so we realized that this movie would be about a major theme of our time,” said producer Scott Stuber, reiterating Wahlberg’s point.
Because the real-life events that the feature drew from were still fresh in the minds of the country, especially the people of Boston, it was important to the production that the film both be accurate and feel authentic.
Explained producer Hutch Parker, “It was important to Mark, as a son of Boston, to be unimpeachably accurate.”
Parker said the script never was locked down officially. Instead, Wahlberg and director Peter Berg changed the story during production, as they spoke to the first responders and bystanders that were present on race day.
“Boston is a very small place, but it is a very unique place, so I wanted [Berg] to understand the people and culture,” said Wahlberg.
Patriots Day is the third film that the director and star have worked on together in the past four years. Lone Survivor (2013) and this September’s Deepwater Horizon also were based on real people and much-publicized events.
Wahlberg said that he would fight Berg on “the smallest thing” in order to ensure that Boston, its people and their stories were properly portrayed onscreen. He said: “I needed it to be authentic, and I was the one who was going to be responsible for that. I held him to the highest standard because I was going to be held accountable.”
Kevin Bacon, who plays FBI agent Richard DesLauriers in the movie, also walked the carpet, along with WME head Ari Emanuel, who was there to support his longtime client and friend Wahlberg. Many of the people on which the film’s principal characters were based were brought up onstage at the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre to a standing ovation from the audience.
“I am very proud that, with this movie, we are in support of police officers, of firefighters, of EMT workers, of the citizens — black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male, female — who came together and took care of each other,” Berg told The Hollywood Reporter.
There are many elements of Patriots Day, from homeland security to the cooperation of federal agencies, that could take on new meaning in the wake of this year’s divisive election.
“One of the things that I liked about Patriots Day, and that I liked about Lone Survivor, is that these are not political movies,” said Berg, who emphasized a bipartisan filmmaking approach. The director hopes that the movie’s themes of universality and hope are the main takeaways for audiences.
He concluded: “They are stories that should be able to reach out to anyone. If you love Hillary Clinton, then there is a story for you here. If you voted for Donald Trump, there is a story for you here.”
Patriots Day hits theaters Dec. 21.
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