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"Patriots Day" and other great true incidents inspired movies

Writer: Casey Chong


Mark Wahlberg portrays one of the cops during the 2013 Boston Marathon in "Patriots Day".

True incident inspired movies have so far been quite the favourite for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg to work on.

In fact, they have already collaborated twice before; the first in "Lone Survivor" and then it was last year's "Deepwater Horizon".

"Patriots Day", which is based on the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, would mark the third time for Wahlberg and Berg to work together on yet another fact-based movie.

What makes movies that touch on real-life stories so great? Maybe it is the emotional attachment we feel towards it or it's the draw of our very own curiosity to find out what really happened beyond what we have once read or seen in the news reports.

With "Patriots Day" now showing in cinemas, here are our picks of the 5 best modern true incident inspired movies that you have to watch!

1. "Hotel Rwanda" (2004)

Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina in "Hotel Rwanda".

Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabagina in "Hotel Rwanda", the hotel manager who provides food and shelter for thousand of Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Despite the scaled-down PG-13 rating, writer-director Terry George doesn't shy away from the horror of genocide while keeping the act of violence intact with a sense of unease and realism. For instance, who could forget the disturbing moment where Paul discovers he is actually driving over a pool of dead bodies scattered everywhere on a fog-drenched road? But what makes "Hotel Rwanda" truly succeed is George's compelling screenplay as well as Don Cheadle's finest performance to date portraying the real-life Paul Rusesabagina with great respect.

2. "United 93" (2006)

One of the tense moments during the plane hijack scenes in "United 93".

The name of Paul Greengrass may have been synonymous with the "Bourne" movies, but the acclaimed British director is also known for delivering perhaps the most visceral movie ever made surrounding the events of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The title of the movie of course, refers to the United Airlines Flight 93 where the plane was hijacked by four al-Qaeda terrorists on the unfortunate morning of September 11, 2001. Thanks to Greengrass' documentary filmmaking style, he successfully recreated the stark urgency of the horrifying events without resorting to a dramatised Hollywood treatment. "United 93" also works well because of Greengrass' smart insistence on using relatively unknown actors to portray the passengers and terrorists respectively. Not to mention Greengrass had even enlisted actual flight crew members to make the movie as authentic as possible.

3. "127 Hours" (2010)

Aron Ralston (James Franco) is trapped and all alone in "127 Hours".

Based on the extraordinary true story by Aron Ralston's memoir "Between A Rock And A Hard Place", "127 Hours" revolves around the eponymous young daredevil (played brilliantly by James Franco, who earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination) who is unfortunate enough to find himself trapped by a falling boulder in Utah's Blue John Canyon. Director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") does an effective job sustaining most of the movie's 93-minute length with his arresting visual flair alongside A.R. Rahman's vivid yet surrealistic music score. Those who have seen this movie before would probably remember the graphic depiction of the amputation scene.

4. "Lone Survivor" (2013)

(L-R) Michael P. Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg),
Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) in "Lone Survivor".

"Lone Survivor" centres on the failed "Operation Red Wings" mission on June 28, 2005 where a four-man Navy SEALs team consisting Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael P. Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) were supposed to apprehend the Taliban commander Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami). But their mission is ultimately jeopardised by an ill-fated decision during their unlikely encounter with the local goat herders. Directed with a remarkable verve by Peter Berg, he doesn't skimp away from violence during the combat scene. All four main actors, in the meantime, are excellent. Best of all, "Lone Survivor" marks the first successful collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg.

5. "Deepwater Horizon" (2016)

Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) in "Deepwater Horizon".

Three years after Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg excelled in their gritty fact-based war drama "Lone Survivor", they delivered another knockout via "Deepwater Horizon". Except for this time, it wasn't a war genre story but rather a true-story disaster drama based on the unfortunate oil rig explosion of April 20, 2010. While the first hour of the movie is too technical especially for those with little knowledge about the oil industry, Berg manages to reward the viewers with an engrossing second half once the oil rig starts to wreak havoc. The special effects of the oil rig explosion are both immersive and realistic. It was the kind of movie that is best experienced on the big screen. Berg also succeeds in capturing the claustrophobic tension as well as the horror of being confined in the chaotic oil rig. Not to forget the actors here, ranging from an excellent everyman performance by Mark Wahlberg as the chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, to a pair of minor roles by Kate Hudson and Stella Allen as Mike's wife and daughter respectively, who each give solid performances.

"Patriots Day" is now showing in cinemas.

Cinema Online, 16 January 2017


Related Movies:
Patriots Day (12 Jan 2017)
Deepwater Horizon (29 Sep 2016)
Transformers: The Last Knight (22 Jun 2017)

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