Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Patriot (2000)



Reviews and Comments

There's a good movie lurking somewhere in The Patriot that surfaces every once in a while in the choppy waters of cliches and theatrics. Every time a succession of bad scenes wore me down, a good one would buoy me up again.

Though set during the Revolutionary War, The Patriot is more akin to a summer action blockbuster. It's a revenge tale, about a man who loses one of his sons to a war he has henceforth tried to stay out of. He'll suffer more sacrifices before the inevitable time when he will face his arch-enemy, a colonel in the British military, on the battlefield.

The battle scenes are a mixed bag. Most of the broad battle scenes are unconvincing, not just in the troop movements but in silly little things like firing cannons into the middle of empty fields. But the more intimate battles, whether hand-to-hand or simply close-range gunfire, are among the film's best scenes, achieving a tenseness and a disturbing intimacy with the characters involved.

Likewise, the character scenes are a mixed bag too. Darned if an initially mechanical subplot involving the main character's youngest daughter doesn't become genuine and moving by its conclusion. Conversely, a romantic subplot involving the eldest son begins sweetly and humorously only to be undone when we learn the film's intention is to use it as a tool for audience manipulation.

Mel Gibson's soulful performance carries the film through to a modest victory. However much I doubted certain scenes or was thrown off by certain plot developments, I never once lost my sense of the character, nor my compassion for him. Still, would it have been too much to ask that the movie have a little bit more to do with reality?