Worth A Look: 12.72%
Pretty Bad: 14.84%
Total Crap: 19.08%
12 reviews, 211 user ratings
|Patriot, The (2000)
by Scott Weinberg
For those people who like to bash these silly period epics for not being 'historically accurate', I say this: Go read a textbook. If you're REALLY watching a movie like The Patriot and you're looking for the TRUTH about history, you're already a little lost. What we have here is a typically fun Hollywood action movie, all dressed up and trying to look serious.If historical accuracy isn't of paramount importance to you, and you don't mind a little corn, then The Patriot is the epic for you. It has all the requirements of the standard Hollywood action epic: noble heroes, evil villains, beautiful damsels in distress, and a handful of staggeringly exciting action sequences. The Patriot is so obviously inspired by Mel Gibson's own Braveheart, but it's a pretty damn entertaining movie in its own right.
"A comic book version of the American Revolution."
Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a one-time warrior who has since retired to raising a farm along with his seven children. Their lives are interrupted when the war with the British spills over into their front yard. When one of his family is killed by the evil Colonel Tavington (the fantastic Jason Isaacs), Martin decides to take up arms against the British.
If you watched both Braveheart and The Patriot back to back, you'd notice a startling number of similarities:
The hero initially rejects the concept of violence, until it is thrust upon him when a loved one is killed.
The hero is embraced by the common man and is protected by them at every turn.
The hero must enlist several colorful sidekicks, many of which will die brutally, therefore infuriating our hero all the more.
The hero fights for vengeance, and the liberation of a nation hangs directly in the balance.
The main villain has a disapproving superior who consistently berates him for his brutality and ineptitude.
The hero finds a 'replacement' love interest, after his 'true' love is dead.
And so on and so on. But while it would be easy to dismiss The Patriot as a mere rehash, the movie has more than its own components worth recommending...as well as a few unintentionally hilarious scenes.
The battle sequences are truly exciting, and you can always expect some shocking bloodiness once in a while. (Look out for those cannonballs!) Mel Gibson continues his streak of solid performances, although I suspect he could probably do this 'noble savage' role in his sleep by now. One of the main highlights is the performance of Jason Isaacs. He plays Colonel Tavington as one nasty bugger. His role is particularly under-written, and he breathes a lot more life into this villain than the script indicated.
It's probably best to look at The Patriot as a comic-book version of the American Revolution...or maybe even Cliff's Notes. Many have bemoaned the lack of historical accuracy in this film, but I doubt that accuracy was really the point here. It's not likely that director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin were intending to make a historical documentary, and considering that these are the guys who brought us Independence Day and Godzilla, that's definitely a good thing.
If the movie sags a bit here and there, it's due to a lack of proper editing. There are a few extraneous subplots that add nothing to the movie, some truly cliched minor characters and some real 'howlers'* including this awful exchange:
Martin: "Mind if I sit here?"
Beautiful Blonde Woman: "It's a free country...or at least it will be."
Hoo boy. How screenwriter Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) got away with dialogue like that is just beyond me. Another unwelcome diversion is that Martin's youngest little daughter refuses to speak. Hmm. If you've ever seen at least one movie in your entire life, I'm pretty sure you can see where the whole 'mute little girl' subplot is headed.
Minor complaints aside, The Patriot makes for a solid meal of a movie. The costumes, special effects and locations are all perfect, and the plot usually moves along at a quick base, despite the ample running time.
* Howler - A line (or series of lines) of dialogue that is truly awful or unintentionally amusing.This movie is nothing more than your standard 'good guys vs. bad guys' stuff, only dressed up into colonial times. It's not a history lesson and it's certainly not deep, but as far as big-budget costume drama action epics are concerned, you could do a heck of a lot worse.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1999&reviewer=128
originally posted: 12/09/00 14:11:47