Donovan's The Patriot ReviewSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2000-07-18 03:13:14 EDT
Rating: 0.16 on 14 ratings (14 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
DONOVAN'S THE PATRIOT REVIEW
Rating: 3 out of 5
Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Robert Rodat
Are you British people annoying on purpose? Do you enjoy being a global punchline? Do you complain about everything out of habit, or because you don’t want to accept the banality of your mediocre existences? Today, you’re complaining about the Mel Gibson American Revolution opus, The Patriot. Specifically, you’re complaining about being depicted unfairly – as violent and unscrupulous barbarians. I suppose you feel that you should be portrayed correctly… as whiney and cowardly pantywaists. Maybe if you crumpet-pumpers would win a war once in awhile, we wouldn’t paint you as such nancies. Goddam tea-time peter-eaters.
I actually have a gripe of my own about the historical inaccuracy of the film: the Revolutionary War itself. The Patriot suggests that the war actually happened. Everyone knows that the war was simply a Hollywood hoax, a marketing ploy to increase pride and shift political power. Oh, your ancestors died in the war? I’m sure they just fled to Canada or something. You have photographs, huh? Ever heard of PhotoShop? Americans have always been in the United States, and have been the dominant global power since the dawn of time. Anyone who tells you differently is just fooling your walnut-sized brain with historical hocus-pocus.
The other inaccuracy that really steams me is the use of Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger as American heroes. THEY’RE AUSTRALIAN! Did people just happen to fucking miss that one? Okay, I’ll concede the fact that Gibson was actually born in New York (he moved to Koalaland when he was a wee dingo), but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a kangaroo. And even if he was American, the casting of Ledger would piss me off anyway. Did anyone see his epileptictally annoying role in Ten Things I Hate About You? I can think of a lot more than ten, dickass. After that dreck, I watched The Patriot hoping to see Ledger take a musket-butt to the face.
Faux fiction and fuzzy Fosters aside, The Patriot was actually a pretty good movie. It was often exciting, sometimes gripping, and even occasionally emotional. The cinematography was beautiful, and the warring was brutal. It was an easy movie to get into. One of the biggest negatives, however, was its unapologetic unoriginality, straight out of a Hollywood Cookbook…
Looking for a fairly enjoyable yet distractingly recycled summer treat? Try a Patriot! Here’s the recipe…
1. Stir together the following ingredients (you can find them in any store where they sell Braveheart):
--- 1 whole Mel Gibson
--- 7 cups of phony accent
--- 2483 hair extensions
--- 1 bloody tomahawk
--- 30 gallons of “FREEEEDOM!”
2. Whip ingredients until revolting (Get it? HAHAHA! Witty double-meaning! Revolutionary War. Tastes “revolting”. Nevermind.)
3. Toss in 3 ounces of Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece Unforgiven
4. Garnish with Mad Max sprinkles and serve
Viola! You’ve got an easy-bake blockbuster, and you didn’t even have to look past your video shelf to find the ingredients.
The cast was hit and miss. I rag on Mel Gibson, but he is actually a class act. Definitely the right guy for the family-centric warrior part. I’d prefer him a little uglier, though. Heath Ledger (Gibson’s defiant eldest son) deserves to eat my excrement. All the parasites that played Gibson’s younger children were forgettable. Joely Richardson was bland as Gibson’s sister-in-law / lover (a little splash of Springer never hurt marketing). Lisa Brenner (a Mary Elizabeth Mastantonio throwback crossed with the ugly man’s Mena Suvari) was irritating as Ledger’s love interest. The brightest star in the cast was Jason Isaacs as the boo-hiss Colonel Tavington, being everything that Timothy Dalton only wished he could be.
Believe it or not, the aspect of the film that I found most alluring was the evolution of the father-son relationship between Gibson and Ledger. In Gibson’s rage, Ledger learns what kind of a complex man his father is. And in Ledger’s defiance and stubborn will, Gibson watches his son become a man. The real intrigue is watching these events take place simultaneously. The real shame is the shallow depth at which this relationship is explored. There is a moment where the boy gets to know his father more than he ever thought he would, and makes frighteningly adult judgements about his father, a man he long thought to be flawless and a hero. It’s a judgement nobody wants to make, but everyone does, whether they come to terms with it or not. It is the same moment where the boy becomes a man in his father’s eyes, one of the proudest moments a father can have, but under the most unfortunate of circumstances. I enjoyed the irony of the fact that in one moment, the boy is disappointed in his father, yet loves him more, while the father is proud of the boy, yet feels angered by him. It’s a pivotal moment where the disappointment can overwhelm the love, and the anger can overwhelm the pride, creating a fissure that cannot be repaired. I would have liked to have seen more exploration of the feelings of pride, disappointment, and hope that they both had about their respective epiphanies. Most of us don’t actually deal with these feelings when our own epiphanies occur, so it would have been interesting to see them played out more onscreen.
Enough of this melodrama. Go see this ruff ‘n’ tumble epic. Or don’t. I don’t honestly give a damn.
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