The Patriot, 2000, directed by Roland Emmerich
...full review posted at http://www.rambles.net/the_patriot.html
The Patriot has often been called the American Braveheart, and the
comparison is a good and valid one for more reasons than having the
same leading man. In both films there is a struggle for independence
from an oppressive monarchy (in both cases, England). In both films
Mel Gibson plays a man unwilling to fight -- until circumstances
force him into the fray as a fighter and leader. In Braveheart, it
was the murder of his wife by a cruel English sheriff which caused
William Wallace to join the struggle to free Scotland from the
English yoke; in The Patriot, plantation owner Benjamin Martin is
convinced to join the American Revolution after his son is gunned
down and his home is destroyed by a cruel English commander. But
while his first Scottish battle enlisted the aid of an entire clan,
Gibson strains the limits of credulity here by taking on an entire
troop of English redcoats with only two young sons to fight with him.
Of course, he wins.
As The Patriot tells it, Benjamin Martin is the only man on either
side of the conflict who realizes that marching regiments in straight
lines into the massed firepower of the foe is a bad idea. He quickly
trains his ragtag band in the art of guerilla warfare (which served
Braveheart's Wallace so well) and sets out to kill redcoats.
Those who enjoy scenes of wholesale slaughter on the battlefield will
love this epic tale. Muskets and pistols, plus the occasional cannon,
sword and tomahawk, stain the fields of South Carolina red. We
witness hundreds of deaths; some hit harder than others, such as
Martin's young son Thomas (Gregory Smith), a young newlywed (Lisa
Brenner), a small red-haired boy and his anguished father, an entire
church filled with helpless townsfolk ... and more. There are scenes
in The Patriot which are not easy to watch.
The bloodshed is leavened with episodes of young romance, extreme
civility among officers, ink-filled tea, melted toy soldiers,
pilfered journals and a pair of turncoat canines. The focus on
friends and family makes The Patriot a fuller, more colorful
spectacle. Particularly well-handled is the relationship between
Martin and his eldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger). It is Gabriel's
fervent patriotism which initially creates a rift in the family, but
soon draws Martin into the war where he develops a strong bond of
cameraderie with his son.
The only real disappointment in The Patriot is Col. William Tavington
(Jason Isaacs), the villainous English commander who carries out a
brutal and merciless campaign against colonial soldiers and civilians
alike. Tavington is two-dimensional in his evil, and in the midst of
so many well-rounded and developed characters, it's hard to believe
someone so flat.
The events and main characters of The Patriot are not based on
figures from history, but even if things didn't really happen that
way exactly ... well, I have a feeling they should have. Check out
this movie and prepare for a wave of national pride.