Hello, and happy....belated fourth of July to you. I apologize I couldn't get this out sooner, but life happens. Let's look at The Patriot". As a critic, you learn that not everybody will will like or respect your opinion (especially if you're talking about video games), but you gradually just learn to accept that fact. You also realize that it's okay to have guilty pleasures. And no director has taught me that more than director, Roland Emmerich. Just take a look at some of his films, "Stargate", "Independence Day", "The Day After Tomorrow", each are clichéd, predictable, not particularly strong movies, but my God are they fun. There's a certain magic behind Roland Emmerich's films. Whenever you sit down to watch them, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a silly, over-the-top, special effect filled ride that will leave you begging for more. These films are not particularly strong, and they are by no means films that are going to win "Best Picture of the Year", but each one has some form of enjoyability, at least the ones I've seen. Even his films like "2012" (which is my least liked Emmerich film to date) and "Godzilla" of all films have something to enjoy. Heck, his take on that latter film is actually one of my biggest guilty pleasures as a hardcore Godzilla fan no less...but that's a review for another day.
Let's look at the Patriot. It's full of everything an Emmerich film has, from impressive special effects, to a predictable, yet fun story, to...glorifying the American Nation in ways Michael Bay will never succeed in, but we'll talk about that later. The film takes place duing the years of the Revolutionary War, and centers on our main protagonist, Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson), and his family, who live in Colonial America, which is in the midst of fully declaring Independence from Britain. His sons appear to be fully suppportive of the war with Britain, while Benjamin, haunted by the horrors he witnessed in the French-Indian Wars, not so much. You can already see that Benjamin is going to be the Hero of the movie, the game changer. The man with the plan. You can argue this is only predictable because the ovie poster portrays him riding a majestic steed, carrying the flag of our forefathers against a fiery sun, but regardless, the way the dialogue plays out between him and his sons, you know that no matter how many times he implies how he is finished fighting, he's gonna return to the battlefield.
You can also pinpoint out who is gonna die. This is really easy in this movie. When I saw the eldest son enlisting, I already knew he was as good as dead. I will admit, that he survived much longer than I expected, but he died. Sorry for the easy spoiler. But I gotta say that even though he survived longer than I thought he would, he barely contributed to the story in any way. He's not by any means the worst character in the world, but a good part of the middle of the movie focuses on him and his love interest in a childhood friend. They of course end up getting married in the film, but honestly, the chemistry I don't think is really there. We see them reminisce over a childhood memory or two, but aside from that, there is very little development or bonding between these two characters. So when eventually they kill off the wife in a rather...well...unpleasant way, I didn't find myself caring too much. THe love came, they tried to enforce it with a marriage, then they killed it off ten minutes later. And I was there wondering when the next battle was gonna happen.
However I think the biggest thing that got to me in this film, wasn't the inaccuracies of history (Historical fiction is fiction. I don't mind small changes they made to the historical figures too much), it was the way the British armies were portrayed. Most significant British troopers in this film were depicted as either heartless jerks with no sense of honor, or snobbish headstrong soldiers...like Cornwallis. I'm not gonna pretend to be some expert on history, but there were so many ways I feel that Cornwallis was depicted in this film that felt off to me. I could be mistaken, but he felt off. But at least he wasn't like Col. Tavington in this film, who felt no remorse for killing defenseless wounded soldiers, or burning a church filled with civilians. It was this demonizing of the British Army that just rubbed off on the wrong way to me. I'm not British, so I wasn't offended, but it felt wrong. Then again, Roland is one to glorify the American Nation, despite ironically being a German director.
Roland tends to make the Americans always come out on top, but lead the way to victory. You see it in "Independence Day", "Godzilla", "The Day After Tomorrow", you name it, he does it, and it's no different here. Thing is a lot of the time, he tends to show everything in his movies as a united society. Whatever happens brings society together. Touching. I like it. The American colonists in this movie are brought together nder one flag, and they fight against tyranny, while being aided by their French allies. Roland certainly knows how to show the American nation in pride in his movies. Michael Bay could take a few lessons from him, you know instead of j ust putting in 200 American flags in one scene, and calling himself a patriot (no pun intended).
And the fight against tyanny brings me to one of the better things this movie does get right, the action. THe battle scenes in this movie are phenominal. From overlooks of colonists fighting British troops, to Benjamin fighting off a party of troops almost singlehandedly. The action can get a little over-the-top (American flag impaling a horse anyone?), but it still doesn't at all negate the fun in this film. The fights can be few, but you just can't seem to leave because you know each fight will be better than the last.
All in all, "TThe Patriot" is likely gonna be added to that ever growing list of guilty pleasures from Roland Emmerich for me. It's still nothing strong, but when Roland knows he's just in it to entertain, he knows how to do it. This film is entertaining. Beyond that at times even. A fun spectacle, and in a world with not so many films about the Revolutionary War, it was fun to experience something somewhat different. Sure it wasn't historically accurate by any means, but the few things that this film did that didn't go well with me, I can forgive. It's Roland Emmerich.
"The Patriot" is a solid three out of four stars for me. It might have gotten a slightly higher score if the movie was maybe a little shorter, and didn't focus so much on certain forgettable elements in the film, but the main story at least keeps your attention, and of course the action never ceases to amaze. It was a fun film to watch for Independence Day weekend, and I'm glad I watched it. And I'm eager to share a few more opinions on some guilty pleasures in film that I have, but for now, I will just say I hope you all had a great Independence Day this year (sorry it's so late from me) and I hope you may consider watching this popcorn film about America's fight for freedom, maybe as a bucket film next year for the holiday.
And as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 3/4