Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Patriot - Movie Review

As a Netflix subscriber, I recently had the chance to see The Patriot, the intense Mel Gibson treatment of the American Revolutionary War.

I liked watching this movie, in spite of its length and commercial predictability.

Mel Gibson carries the action in most of the scenes. As a prosperous, peaceful farmer in South Carolina, he handles his development into an effective militia officer with great skill. John Williams’ sturdy score, the warm cinematography, and an attractive supporting cast add value to this production.

As a widower, Gibson is left with a flock of children; the eldest son (a rather bland Heath Ledger) at seventeen itches to go to war. The younger children don’t do much. The smallest girl seems to have issues that a psychologist might handle. But it’s the 1770s.

Some of the supporting roles do become rather tedious and don’t add a great deal to the action.

The Patriot is gory, violent. The British commander, Cornwallis, is steady, has a firm grip on South Carolina. The tough farmer-combatants have a very tough enemy. Even the militia commander, an elegant Chris Cooper, has to work hard to focus his forces on the mission they have undertaken.

Save your hisses for Cornwallis’s second-in-command, a despicable British colonel. I don’t quite know why Cornwallis hasn’t transferred this hateful officer long ago.

Gibson loses a great deal in this movie: his home, and, with the death of his son in battle, his resolve to continue the fight. In a rather routine bit of scriptwriting, Chris Cooper urges and convinces Gibson to stay the course.

The militia are a fairly invincible lot, riding hard constantly to endless battle scenes. They’ve heard that the French are supposed to come to their aid, but where they are and when they’ll come nobody really knows. There is not a whole lot of confidence in their phantom ally.

Toward the end of The Patriot things look a lot brighter. Militia now appear with the Stars and Stripes on enormous flags. In feel-good scriptwriting, Gibson is an enthusiastic flag waver.

When he bids adieu to a French fellow-fighter (the exact point of this role was not entirely clear to me) both become quite emotional with “Vive la France” and “Bonne Chance”. I half expected the Marseillaise. But that’s rushing things.

The R rating for this movie (violence) is completely warranted. Not suitable for any young children. For value designation, I’ll give it an average B, aware that B productions have sustained Hollywood for decades. – Renata Breisacher Mulry


Anonymous said...

If Mel Gibson is an "enthusiastic flag-waver", so were the patriots who fought in the final battle of that film (which was based, fairly accurately, on the Battle of Cowpens); I had a great grand uncle, a young dragoon in the Westchester Horse, who was killed in action by Col Tarleton's men (the "Col. Tavington, in the film))in New York in 1779. Tarleton was only marginally "nicer" in reality than his screen persona, "Tavington". All in all, "The Patriot" was a very good film, much better than the reviews our leftist press gave it, but that's typical. regards. dk.

Anonymous said...

p.s The character that Gibson played in that film was based on a couple of real individuals, notably Col. Francis Marion (aka "The Swamp Fox"), a guerrilla commander in the Carolinas who drive the British quite nuts when Tarleton had been reassigned down there ( from New York). dk.

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