Former police commish: Movie based on Boston Marathon bombing 'gets it right'
Former Police Commish Ed Davis said "Patriots Day" managed to capture the emotional toll the attack took on police
By Denise Lavoie
BOSTON — For Jessica Kensky, seeing the new Mark Wahlberg movie about the Boston Marathon bombing was deeply personal.
She and her husband, Patrick Downes, both lost their left legs below the knee in the 2013 bombing. Almost two years later, Kensky chose to have her right leg amputated because of excruciating pain caused by severe injuries she suffered in the bombing.
So when it came time to publicly express her feelings about the movie "Patriots Day," Kensky chose her words carefully.
She said she and her husband were initially reluctant to be involved in the film, but after seeing the movie during a special screening in Boston last week, she believes Wahlberg and director Peter Berg treated the victims and their stories with respect. But she said the question of whether the filmmakers "got it right" was one that's impossible for her and other survivors to answer.
"It can feel OK, they can feel respected, they can feel proud and happy it was done, but 'right' is so hard because what happened to us was just anything but right," she said.
"Patriots Day" is set to open Wednesday in theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, and Jan. 13 nationwide. The movie's title refers to Patriots' Day, the day the Boston Marathon is run, a state holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolutionary War.
Some of the key characters in the movie who saw the film last week said they were anxious about it accurately capturing the devastation of the twin bombings near the finish line of the marathon. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260, including nearly two dozen people who lost limbs.
Wahlberg and director Peter Berg took pains to show how many law enforcement agencies cooperated to find the bombers, and they also managed to capture the emotional toll the attack took on police and everyone else affected by the bombings, said former Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who helped lead the investigation.
"Watching the movie, not only did they get it right ... but at the end of this, it was a cathartic experience for me," Davis said.
Wahlberg, a Boston native, said he was initially hesitant to make the film but came to feel a personal responsibility to his hometown to tell the story and tell it right. In the film, Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, an amalgam of Boston police officers who were at the finish line when the bombs exploded and later helped find the bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The movie depicts the carnage caused by the bombing: the bloodied victims, the severed limbs, the anguished screams, a police officer standing guard over the covered body of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest casualty.
It also shows the city's response: strangers tying tourniquets around the injured, doctors and nurses racing around emergency rooms to save severely injured people, people lining the streets and applauding police after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The film focuses heavily on the intense manhunt for the Tsarnaevs and the resilience that came to be known as "Boston Strong."
"I'm so proud of my community as a whole and the way they responded," Wahlberg said at a news conference Thursday in Boston.
Kensky said one of the most difficult things for her and some other survivors was seeing the Tsarnaev brothers portrayed in the movie. Tamerlan was killed during the shootout with police; Dzhokhar was sentenced to death and is appealing.
Another movie about the bombings — starring Jake Gyllenhaal as survivor Jeff Bauman — is slated for release next year.