By Kate Murphy
April 15 will mark the fourth anniversary of the Boston Marathon double bombings that killed four people and injured more than 260 near the finish line. The new film “Patriots Day” chronicles the race against time to hunt down the perpetrators, the Tsarnaev brothers, before they could strike again.
Mark Wahlberg, an actor and co-producer of the film, as well as a native Bostonian, stopped by to speak with Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga about his character and the process of getting the story accurate.
Wahlberg plays a fictional character, police Sgt. Tommy Saunders, who is a composite of a few specific Boston officers involved in the investigation and ultimate capture of the bombers. He said, “We wanted a character in the movie that could basically be the audience’s point of view, and someone you could kind of track throughout.”
Golodryga mentioned that the officers are depicted as heroes in the film and asked Wahlberg about his relationship with the police, especially at a time when the country’s attitude toward them is divided. Wahlberg said, “I have a huge amount of respect for people who go out there, who sign up to protect our community, and our country, also firefighters, first responders, but people who are abusing their authority, that is a big problem and an issue we need to deal with, but to vilify law enforcement as a whole is also a big problem.”
Wahlberg addressed the difficult process of speaking with survivors to ensure the film did them justice. “You’re talking about reenacting the worst thing that ever happened to them,” he said, “but what we ultimately want people to understand is out of this tragedy came hope and inspiration, and that’s the thing that’s so amazing about the movie, is [that it’s] ultimately so uplifting.”
When asked about the message he has for people jaded by terror attacks and don’t believe that love conquers all, Wahlberg said, “Well, you’re entitled to feel whatever you want, but how do you continue on with life?” He went on to talk about his Christian faith and believes “good is doing the right thing; even though sometimes it’s difficult, it’s the right thing to do. With all the bad in the world, there is good.”
Of his commitment to accuracy, Wahlberg said, “It was important to just make sure that I held everybody on the creative side as accountable as the people of Boston would hold me.”
Some of the real-life people who were there that day were happy with the way they were depicted in the film, but “Patriots Day” hasn’t been without controversy. Boston police officer Dennis O. Simmonds died of a brain aneurysm almost a year after the Watertown, Mass., shootout that captured bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Medical experts have linked Simmonds’ death to a head injury he sustained during the gun battle. Simmonds’ parents wrote a letter to the CEO of CBS Films asking why their son wasn’t recognized in the movie. The Boston Herald reported that a spokeswoman who previously commented on Simmonds’ omission from the film said, “Documenting an event of this scale in a two-hour film limits the number of individual stories you are able to tell. This is why we dedicated the film to everyone involved.”
“Patriots Day” is now playing in select theaters and will release nationwide on Jan. 13.