Our movie takes a look at the American war of independence, seeing that war through the eyes of widower Benjamin Martin and his family.
The film begins with the state of South Carolina about to join the war against the British, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) argues against fighting, having seen what war can do to men during his infamous service during the French and Indian war. However the town decides against him and South Carolina joins the war.
Benjamin’s eldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger) enlists despite his father’s misgivings and life would appear to return to normal for a while. However all is to change when his own house is burnt down and the British Green Dragoon commander Colonel Tavington (Jason Issacs) kills one of his seven children.
Benjamin now packs the children off to his wife’s sisters where they will be safe until the movie plot calls for them to be endangered again. Free of his children there is nothing stopping our hero forming the locals into a guerrilla combat unit to harass the local British general Cornwallis’ (Tom Wilkinson) army. He then goes on to almost single-handily win the war for the Americans‡ - well what did you expect he is Mel Gibson.
So my opinion of the film then? Well the actual movie is most enjoyable and you shouldn’t notice as the time flies by (three hour movie). However the feel of the movie is a little too much like “The last of the Mohicans” (1992), and I feel that “The Patriot” suffers because of this (sorry The last of the Mohicans was better). The general flow if the film was a little predictable, for example within two seconds of meeting our villain we know he must survive for a final apocalyptic battle with Mel.
Visually the movie was very good, and the images of warfare were gritty and realistic (of course if you’re a named character you can expect to survive a wound long enough to rattle off a death spiel) enough to make you squirm occasionally.
Arrr well onto characters then… Firstly our chief villain the British Green Dragoon commander, Colonel Tavington; well isn’t he a nasty piece of work, but what do you expect after all he is the chief protagonist. A rather modern character who doesn’t follow the rules of war, much to the continued annoyance Cornwallis and I’m sure all his victims!
Now our hero Benjamin Martin. Well he a man who has seen horror, “O’ the horror, the horror”, during the war with the French, and he is now a hero because of the rather unsavoury things he did then. Still he does show some reserve before leaping into battle, and seems primarily a ‘family man’. On a more personal note; what is it with Mel Gibson and movies in which British chaps get a right kicking? Is it just me or has Mel Gibson been in just about every movie to feature the Brits losing a battle, Braveheart for example features Mel happily wading into Brits with a giant sword. Never mind, just my tupence.
Hmmm, well just time for a quick roundup of the rest of our usual suspects. We have Gabriel, who I believe is the ‘Patriot’ of who the movie title is taken. He is our general headstrong young fellow who is more like his father than he would care to admit. Aunt Charlotte (Joely Richardson) plays Benjamin’s wife’s sister and is the blatant love interest for Benjamin the second her corset encased heaving bosom appear on set. She does play a reasonably strong character, but at the end of the day this is a bloke movie and hence her role is not the strongest. The rest of Benjamin’s troops are mostly old soldiers, without too much of a part to play.
Should you go and see it? I would say if you’re at the theatre then by all means go and watch it, and you will enjoy it, but don’t go out of your way to watch it unless you’re a big Mel Gibson fan.
‡ That was not a spoiler, any fool know who won the American war of independence.