This is the first of a new segment I will do each week, as I look at the differences or similarities to how I rate a film compared to my peers. While I don’t put a lot of stock in websites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, they do give a general idea of how the rest of the press feels about a certain movie. Today we are going to cover Patriots Day and Silence.
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Kaitlyn: 3 / 10
The critical consensus for Patriots Day mentions that it is a “solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy” which does not make any sense. The movie itself, as I detailed, does not follow the actions of real people, but instead follows around one fake person, as this person is the reason anything happens. They gave the action of finding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the boat to Mark Wahlberg’s character, completely ignoring the real police officer that did the work. How is ignoring the real heroes of that event paying tribute to them? On a purely technical level, Patriots Day is competent, but all of it feels so unreal that it might as well be any generic script from Hollywood.
There is a sense of patriotism that goes along with movies that have political leanings. This is a movie about a terrorist attack, so of course people are going to see it and use that as some sort of badge of honor. We saw something similar happen to American Sniper a few years ago. There is nothing patriotic about seeing a movie, though. There is nothing that honors the victims of this tragedy by giving a Hollywood studio money. If the marketing department latches onto this the same way they did with American Sniper, there is every chance that someone might try to sell this movie as standing up for patriotism, but it is not. This movie is the opposite of patriotism.
Perhaps that is what other critics don’t seem to see. They think they would be mocking the dead or the maimed by slamming the movie, but this isn’t true. The moments that work are the moments that focus on the real people, but Patriots Day does not focus on the real people, it focuses on Mark Wahlberg, and that is the insult. That is mocking the dead and the maimed by turning their pain into an opportunity to con people into giving a major studio money under the guise of patriotism.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Kaitlyn: 5 / 10
The critical consensus on Silence mentioned that it is “emotional”, which is where other critics stumble. Martin Scorsese is one of the great directors working today, but the emotion in Silence doesn’t come from anything on screen. The emotion comes from the fact that Scorsese is too close to this material and wasn’t able to pull back when needed. There is nothing wrong with a long movie, but a long movie that feels long shows poor pacing. There were plenty of moments in Silence that could have been cut, but weren’t because this is a passion project above all else. No one wants to be the one to tell the great Scorsese that his passion project isn’t up to par. There is the inclination to give it a pass because of that, but a bad movie is a bad movie.
A lot of critics are also keen to give passes to movies that force a single actor to carry the entire picture. In this case it’s Andrew Garfield, and while he is trying to join the big leagues he isn’t up to the task here. Silence is also a movie that takes a look at religion through a critical eye and there are many critics that will react to that one way or another. The idea of a movie looking down on the loss of faith and the idea that the western spread of Christianity was not a good thing are hot topics. However, just because a movie goes after an ideology doesn’t mean it’s good and Scorsese should know better. He directed The Wolf of Wall Street which was longer so he knows how to pace a long movie and this isn’t it.
Scorsese couldn’t find an editor willing to tell him ‘no’ when it came to his movie so it stands to chance that those who value his work could do the same in their criticism. There is the idea that because something is a passion project it must be worth more but passion doesn’t always equal quality. A movie that took ten years to make, with all the love and support of a great director behind it, does not get a critical pass compared to a movie written in a few weeks a year ago.