Peter Berg came into directing with robust entertainments like Very Bad Things and The Rundown. He didn’t break out, however, until he helmed the film adaptation of Friday Night Lights, a very enjoyable movie that did, in fact, do more than a handful of things better with the source material than the beloved TV series did. From there, he directed an incredibly ambitious, faulty superhero satire (Hancock) and a thrilling but politically problematic action-drama (The Kingdom) before taking on the doomed Battleship. None of those films were particularly remarkable but they are all infinitely preferrable to the emotional manipulation and uncomplicated, dull vision of heroism in Lone Survivor, which unfortunately got him awards attention.
Lone Survivor leans heavily on the same kind of strained moralism that has made a number of true-to-life action-dramas, especially those involving American soldiers, insufferable to sit through. So, when Berg was announced as the director of Patriots Day, which tackles the Boston Marathon bombings, I can’t say I was distinctly thrilled with the choice. Then again, most of the problems with Lone Survivor were with the script, as well as Berg’s use of an overbearing score. And considering the news today that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will be composing the score for Patriots Day, Berg has my express permission – which I know he was waiting for – to use the score in any way he sees fit.
Reznor and Ross have been collaborators for a long time now, but their film scores have become sought-after, gorgeous pieces of ambient work. Their work on Fincher’s last three films – The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl – have quickly made them legends in the field and has garnered them plenty of awards statuettes, including Oscars. For this reason alone, Patriots Day now qualifies as a must-see movie of the Fall/Winter season. Who knows? Maybe the movie will be good too.