Ingredients: A righteous widower with seven children gets involuntarily involved with the American Revolution. Add two dead sons and a sadistic British officer. Stir in a war between good = North Americans and evil = the Brits, garnish with lots of big emotions and serve with two romances on the side.
Mel Gibson portrays widowed farmer and war hero Benjamin Martin who is haunted by his past and doesn’t want to join the rebellion against England. However, his sons Gabriel (Heath Ledger) and Thomas (Gregory Smith) have different ideas and can’t wait to enlist in the “Continental Army”. Benjamin gets forced to abandon his uncommitted attitude when the revolutionary war doesn’t stop at his front porch. While son Gabriel is wounded and seeks treatment at his father’s house, he also attracts the interest of British troops that are following him. When Colonel William Tavington (Jason Isaacs) cold-heartedly shoots younger son Thomas and burns down the Martin plantation to the ground, Benjamin seeks revenge while struggling to protect his seven children and fighting the ghosts from his past war experience at the same time.
Under the command of Colonel Harry Burwell (Chris Cooper) he becomes “The Ghost”, a leader of a militia that outwits the British army, which combats war by the book. Eventually, the militia and the Continental Army join forces when they confront the British army in a crucial battle. Son Gabriel gets killed by the same sadistic Colonel Tavington. Benjamin finally gets his chance for revenge when he duels Tavington and kills him. Consequently, he rescues the American flag that his son Gabriel had lovingly mended and uses the flag to cheer on his militia soldiers that are retreating from the brutal force of the British army. Once they follow the flag, they re-gain fighting strength and manage to beat the British army.
This is a big budget Hollywood movie. Don’t expect historical accuracy or getting all the facts because this is not a documentary. It paints the picture of friends and foes in black and white with no gray shades in between. It omits critical ground like the question of slavery which was already present at the time of the American Revolution and will be one of the land mines that ignite the Civil War several decades later. Of course all the Americans are brave and witty and good whereas the Brits are either cruel and sadistic or mollycoddled and a bit sappy – hilarious here Tom Wilkinson as General Lord Charles Cornwallis. Like most Hollywood movies the story and the conclusion are somewhat predictable and don’t leave much room for twisting surprises.
This is a big budget Hollywood movie. [sic] Director Roland Emmerich, also know for block-busters like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and Stargate, is a guarantor (most of the time) for good, solid entertainment. Together with writer Robert Rodat he paints an image of the Revolutionary War that is just plain big entertainment and not a history lesson. He very well balances the big and fiery emotions of the main characters with some witty dialogues and humorous anecdotes. Last not least the depicting of the battle at the end of the movie is well choreographed, although in parts very gory and hence realistic.
Why I Like This Movie
I have some favorite movies which I don’t get tired to watch and that see me through the year, like some Christmas movies or other movies that remember and acknowledge further important dates. The Patriot is what I call my “Independence Day” movie and which I often watch on or in close proximity to Independence Day. As I said before, it’s great and solid entertainment and despite it short-comings it keeps reminding us why this nation was founded and what the founding fathers fought for.
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