The Patriot Reviews
"Some things are worth fighting for."
I have seen The Patriot countless times by now, and yet I still love it. While a lot of epics seem distant and cold, this one has an amazing amount of heart involved. That isn't to say that it isn't the violent war film it is notable for. There's an extreme amount of blood, but in between the battles, there's also an extreme amount of feeling. The film is long, but not a second is wasted. There's always something going on. If there isn't a battle going on, there's character development or plot development. This film is as much about family as it is about the Revolutionary War. There's a humungous cast of good actors, some big names(Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Tom Wilkinson) and a variety of other character actors(Joely Richardson, Donald Logue). Besides being just another war movie, this has a lot more going on. It's at times beautiful, at times brutal, at times sad, at times humorous, and at times exciting.
The Patriot centers the Revolutionary War around a man named Benjamin Martin and his involvement in the war. At first he doesn't want South Carolina to go to war along with some of the other colonies because he knows innocent people will die. When the war happens in his front yard and one of his sons is murdered by Tavington(a truly good villain), he joins up. The Continental Army is vastly undermanned, which brings up the usage of guerilla warfare, which Martin and his militia use to great effectiveness. His men aren't real soldiers, but "farmers." They are just ordinary men who join up to fight off the Redcoats.
The most notable thing about the film is obviously the battle scenes. They are violent and pretty realistic. The battle scenes are filmed beautifully, for lack of a better word. This is easily Ronald Emmerich's best film. He's done some other stuff that is fun, but not what you'd call great filmmaking(Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), but this is grand, epic filmmaking. I know there's a lot of people out there that don't believe this film to be great, but I certainly don't agree with them. As far as war epics go, this is about as big and good as they can come. I'm not saying it is the best war movie ever, but it deserves more respect then it has gotten.
It's an emotionally powerful movie in my opinion. Sure it shows a fictionalized story on how America came to be through the Revolutionary War, but the family themes of the movie is what shine through more then anything else. There's a lot of big themes going on here too: freedom, love, honor, respect, revenge, and perseverance; but in the end, family is the biggest theme. The Patriot just misses being a complete masterpiece, but as it is, it's still an amazing achievement and a great film.
But, to say this movie distorts history would be an understatement. And that is extremely sad in a movie that sells itself as an accurate portrayal of events during the revolution. The Patriot, unfortunately, crosses the line and try's to portray as 'actual fact' a film which is predominantly fictional. Hence, the 'real life' equivalent of Benjamin Martin actually used to scalp Native Americans in his spare time (a fact neatly overlooked by the director).
This 'rose tinted' view of history is at its worst during the church-burning scene where a British Army officer ordered the murder of many innocent civilians by locking them in a church and setting it alight. This event never took place and yet, thanks to The Patriot, a whole generation of Americans will believe that the British Army actually committed this horrendous act in South Carolina -- when in fact history shows that it was not the British Army that burned a church full of people in 1776 but the Nazis that did during WW2.
As a Brit, I don't so much mind Hollywood always portraying us as the 'bad guys' -- after all it is American money making these films -- I'm more concerned that some Americans actually believe what they watch. This is especially true in movies like The Patriot which 'pretend' to be real.
It's a shame that in such a technically competent movie, which pays such attention to minutiae detail like the costumes, that something as significant as the accuracy of the screenplay could have been so grotesquely overlooked.
"The Patriot" succeeds in every way as a great movie. It has great acting by everybody, especially Mel Gibson and the brutal and unforgiving British commander that is in charge. The movie's plot is easy to follow and it'll be hard to take your eyes off the screen the whole time you're watching the movie. "The Patriot" also has decent special effects and the battle scenes couldn't have been done any better. If you like great movies, and especially if you like war movies, you'll like "The Patriot." NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2000. I was being generous. I liked the movie enough, but it really wasn't one of my favorites, even of the genre or of Gibson's library. Rather overrated.
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the director/producer team responsible for such sci-fi blockbusters as Independence Day, Stargate, and Godzilla, take a step back in time with this drama set during the American Revolution. Farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) was born and raised in South Carolina, and fought bravely during the French-Indian wars. But since the death of his wife, Benjamin has renounced violence and quietly tends his crops, raising his seven children alone. In 1776, over Benjamin's objections, his oldest son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) joins the fight against the British. Gabriel returns from battle seriously wounded, with Lord General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) calling for his arrest. A skirmish breaks out on Benjamin's plantation, and one of his children is killed as Gabriel is captured by Col. Tavington (Jason Isaacs) and sentenced to hang. Benjamin sets aside his vow of pacifism and rescues Gabriel; with the help of his former comrade-in-arms Harry Burwell (Chris Cooper), the father and son form a regiment of Carolina patriots whose cunning and ruthlessness make them heroes among the colonists -- and wanted men by British troops.
This movie feels a lot like Braveheart at times. Switching one family member for a different one the whole story of vengeance is here. This is still a decent movie. There are a few times where a person groans when the over done patriotism gets going, but the battles are very well done. The acting is decent and its nice to see a war movie made about a period of time that changed the world. There really hasn't been a lot about one of the most pivotal points in the last five hundred years. Worth the time to watch it, just be prepared for two or three heavy helpings of cheese and Hollywood make believe.