In the best of cases, dramatizing a real-life tragedy—especially one only a few years in the past—is a fraught enterprise. This is not the best of cases. Director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) again team up for fact-based rah-rah, this one focused around the April 15, 2013 terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It gets off to the worst possible start, introducing several everyday Bostonians going about their lives with mournful music in the background, as we simply wait for them to become casualties. Then there’s Wahlberg’s character, Boston cop Tommy Saunders, a fictionalized amalgam who’s like the Forrest Gump of this horrific event; he’s absolutely everywhere and figuring out absolutely everything, to a degree that feels grotesquely offensive to everyone else involved in saving lives and tracking down the Tsarnaev brothers. And it’s squirm-inducing to note how much time the story spends with the Tsarnaevs themselves, in a way that’s unpleasant without ever being enlightening. I hope everyone involved feels good telling themselves this was all about honoring the victims, instead of delivering an embarrassing cash-in.
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