This film came out around the same time as star Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" and I remember people thinking he'd directed this film as well, particularly because of savage battle scenes. However, "The Patriot" was directed by Roland Emmerich, the reliable producer/writer/director of many enjoyable but empty headed summer popcorn films, including "Independence Day," "White House Down," and "Stargate." While most of his films are unchallenging crowd pleasers, "The Patriot" stands apart in his filmography as quality piece of filmmaking. The film was written by Robert Rodat, who also wrote "Saving Private Ryan," and he brings the same mix of realism and and emotion to the American Revolutionary War that he brought to WWII. Mel Gibson plays a farmer and retired war hero who wants nothing more than to left alone with his family and to run his farm. However, Gibson is pushed to his limits by Jason Isaacs, best known as the sneering Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, who play as a sneering British Colonel. Gibson's fictional Benjamin Martin is an amalgam of several Revolutionary War heroes, but primarily seems to be based upon Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox, who was a pivotal figure during the war, leading a group of irregular soldiers in a guerrilla war against the British in South Carolina, even after the Continental Army had been driven out the state. After Gibson's son, Heath Ledger, is captured by Issacs, Gibson leads his own ragtag band of soldiers against the redcoats using what was at the time was very unusual guerrilla tactics. The small and large scale action sequences in "The Patriot" are the real highlight of the film. They are exciting, brutally realistic, and most importantly, are emotionally poignant. There is an early scene in the film when Gibson ambushes a British detail to free his captured son, Ledger, where he uses his very young sons as his soldiers, and the filmmakers don't shy away from the young children's shock at their father telling them how to kill men, as well as taking time to show the aftermath and their reaction to their father's brutality. Besides being and exciting and unflinching in it's graphic and realistic presentation of war, it's the emotional component that elevates "The Patriot" from simply being a technically effective crafted battle sequence. However, although the film does a fine job of presenting a realistic depiction of war for this time period and also does an excellent job of period detail in terms of costumes, architecture, and set decor, the film grossly fails in it's whitewashing of history in an attempt to present a politically correct hero who's more palatable to audiences.. As I said before, "The Patriot" is a work of fiction, but having Gibson's Martin "paying" his black farmworkers instead of owning slaves seems wildly disingenuous (Francis Marion owned slaves). Additionally, the real-life Francis Marion committed many war atrocities, even by the standards of his time, which are completely absent in this film, although there are hints of something in Gibson's past during the French and Indian War. If "The Patriot" had been as honest in it's depiction of history in these respects as it had been in it's depiction of warfare, this film may have been a true classic. Despite this major lapse, "The Patriot" remains a strong piece of filmmaking, with an emotional center that focuses around family, which gives the film a resonance that is lacking from many war films. Well worth watching despite it's flaws.