How soon is too soon?
Basically, anyone in first grade or older has a pretty firm recollection of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the four-day hunt for the killer-terrorists that held the Greater Boston region hostage both literally and figuratively.
It’s that fresh memory that has many conflicted about whether or not the new movie Patriots Day was made too soon or should have been made at all. The reviews are mixed on the film but the context of the bombings has had a noticeable impact on reviewers.
Those who are unimpressed make it a point to acknowledge the victims, both dead and surviving, which seems to soften their take on the movie, while those who think director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg did a fine job temper their takes with the caveat that maybe they should have waited.
It’s not unusual for Hollywood to jump on tragedy and for those most affected to be livid at someone cashing in on their pain. All one has to do is look at the early days following the 9/11 attacks and the made-for-TV movies and quick hit films that were panned for their insensitivity, not to mention lack of substance. But that didn’t stop producers from churning out about 50 movies and documentaries about the 2001 attacks.
Berg and Wahlberg have gone out of their way to say how much they “got” the need to be sensitive and respectful, and many of those portrayed in the film think they succeeded. But Berg and Wahlberg did not make the movie for sensitivity; they made it for money because that’s what commercial filmmaking is about. And that’s what has some people upset.
Patriots Day is “as disgraceful an exploitation of real-life tragedy as I’ve ever seen,” writes Sean Burns, of the NorthShoreMovies.net. “Everyone involved in this movie should be ashamed of themselves.”
What has Burns and other critics most peeved is the character played by Wahlberg. And that’s their problem, that it is a character. While other real-life officials, such as former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis and former FBI special agent in-charge Richard DesLauriers, get star treatment, Wahlberg’s Tommy Saunders is Everycop. Literally. Tommy Saunders never existed but is, in the words of Wahlberg, a mash-up of all the heroic officers that day.
Some critics say there were enough heroes that day to make a series of films but they received no mention in the movie. Others opposed to the film, such as Watertown and UMass Dartmouth officials, denied requests to film key dramatic scenes on location. No sooner had the movie debuted than friends, family, and colleagues called on producers to include Simmonds name in the roll of victims at the end of the credits. It was a real clear no-win scenario for producers.
Because of the open sores that still remain, many are upset that Berg added some humanity to Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev and not enough to some of the victims, such as Martin Richard who is not named in the movie but referred to as “the dead eight-year-old kid under the blanket.” To the movie’s defense, though, the Richard family requested their son’s name not be mentioned.
In the end, Globe movie critic Ty Burr probably summed up the conflict best, noting criticism from both sides stems from shared belief that not enough time that has passed since the tragedy.
“It’s professionally made, slickly heartfelt, and is offered up as an act of civic healing,” he writes. “At best, it’s unnecessary. At worst, it’s vaguely insulting.”
Advocates disrupt the final meeting of a state commission reviewing criminal justice policies with a call for the panel to broaden its recommendations for new legislation beyond probation and post-incarceration services to include sentencing reform. (CommonWealth) A Globe editorial echoes that call and urges Gov. Charlie Baker, seen as the most reluctant reformer of the key state leaders, to shift his stance.
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is stepping down, making way for Donald Trump to appoint a replacement. (State House News) She had her wins (Whitey Bulger and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) and some setbacks (Aaron Swartz and John O’Brien). No mention in the stories of the never-ending investigation of Sen. Brian Joyce, who has been under investigation for a very long time. (Boston Globe) No one from team Trump has reached out to the Baker administration for advice on a new US attorney for Massachusetts, says Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. (Boston Herald)
An Eagle-Tribune editorial, taking note of the overturned conviction of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien, laments how federal courts are turning a blind eye to corruption.
Estimating that one in five men have tried to buy sex online, Attorney General Maura Healey says she will try to curb human trafficking by reducing demand. (State House News)
A Lowell Sun editorial, alarmed at the decline in Lottery sales, calls for expansion online and any other measures needed to revive the key source of local aid.
A Berkshire Eagle editorial slams Baker for cutting tourism funds as part of his emergency cuts even though it’s not clear there is an emergency.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter says the city will look at “three or four” other locations to build an adult soccer pitch after neighborhood opposition killed plans for the original site but a state official says grant money earmarked for the project cannot be used on a different site. (The Enterprise)
A developer is considering building a new hotel or possibly a new mixed-use high-rise as part of the massive downtown Quincy redevelopment. (Patriot Ledger)
Barnstable County will file suit against the manufacturers of firefighting foam that was used at the country’s training facility and contaminated nearby water supplies. The town of Barnstable had previously filed a separate action over the contamination. (Cape Cod Times)
North Carolina lawmakers failed to reach a deal during a special session to repeal the so-called “bathroom bill” that triggered economic, athletic, tourism, and entertainment boycotts of the state. (New York Times)
The year that was, through the eyes of former federal judge Nancy Gertner, former US attorney Michael Sullivan, and former CNN White House reporter Dan Lothian. (Greater Boston)
The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld reports that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh continues to rake in boatloads of campaign cash, now sitting on a cool $3.4 million, with some of it coming from former aides to his predecessor, late former mayor Tom Menino, with whom Walsh had a “cool relationship” (in the icy sense of the word). (Boston Herald) Would-be mayoral challenger Tito Jackson, a district city councilor from Roxbury, has dropped $15,000 for a campaign video. (Boston Herald)
Brianna Wu, cofounder of a gaming company who gained attention when she was targeted by the “GamerGate” movement, says she’ll run for a Massachusetts congressional seat in 2018, but not the one held by Katherine Clark. (Boston Globe)
Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, according to official records. (CNN)
Massachusetts Democrats are taking aim at Trump, but are so far steering clear of broadsides against Gov. Charlie Baker, who is halfway through his first term and faces reelection in 2018. (Boston Globe)
Lawrence entrepreneur Sal Lupoli is helping incubate new restaurants there by giving startups a chance to try out their idea in a downtown pizza parlor. (Boston Globe)
A Herald editorial applauds the state education board’s decision to add a history MCAS test requirement.
Framingham school officials are worried the district’s schools will not have enough capacity to handle the growing enrollment in a few years. (MetroWest Daily News)
Weston School Superintendent Robert Tremblay is stepping down in June at the end of his first year on the job, the latest Massachusetts superintendent to leave before the first contract is up. (MetroWest Daily News) Earlier this year, CommonWealth took a look at the churn in the top posts of school districts.
Officials have canceled the rest of the boys’ hockey team season for the joint squad from Keefe Regional Technical School and Marian High School in Framingham after reports of anti-Semitic taunts and actions by players against a teammate. (Boston Globe)
A voluntary diversion program started by the Gloucester police, and since copied around the country, helped more than 400 addicts receive drug treatment in the first full year of the effort, according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine. (Associated Press)
Eversource Energy will move more than 14,000 retirees off the company’s health care plan and instead offer reimbursements for them to buy their own coverage. (Boston Globe)
About 6.4 million people have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act despite Republican pledges to repeal the law when President-elect Donald Trump takes office. (New York Times) John McDonough has five questions for the GOP about repeal of the act. (CommonWealth)
Accidental shootings spike during the holiday season, almost half self-inflicted, and are more likely to occur between Christmas and New Year’s than at any other time during the year, according to an analysis by Associated Press and USA Today.
Uber cancels a self-driving car trial in San Francisco after the state DMV suspends the registration of 16 autonomous cars for driving through red lights. (The Guardian)
A hydrogen gas leak was detected earlier this week at the increasingly troubled Pilgrim nuclear power plant, the second leak of hydrogen at the Plymouth facility this year. (Cape Cod Times)
The push for “cashless” Lottery sales has state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the Lottery and is usually looking for ways to pump up proceeds, worried about driving people into debt. (Boston Globe)
Gloucester police say they didn’t charge a 20-year-old who admitted he was high on marijuana when he crashed his car into a school bus with impaired driving because drug tests at the police station that would have shown he was under the influence “were not immediately available,” reports the Boston Herald.
A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health claims black men are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites. (U.S. News & World Report)
MEDIAHowie Carr doesn’t like the hacked up state Probation Department, mainly because of its ties to former House speaker Tom Finneran. But he makes an exception for William Burke, one of three former Probation officials whose corruption convictions were overturned this week. And in case you’d never heard this, he doesn’t care for the Globe, even though it detailed a lot of the problems at Probation he loathes. (Boston Herald)