The Patriot – 1 Star
1. The Patriot‘s director, German born Roland Emmerich, is not quite a hack of Renny Harlin’s status, but his resume’ is filled with a boatload of crappy, excessive, ludicrous films such as 2012, 10,000 BC, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, Independence Day, and Universal Soldier. And The Patriot.
2. The Patriot is a revenge movie set during The Revolutionary War. Revenge movies are fine. But a revenge movie fails if the person upon whom revenge must be visited is blase’ about his own life or death. In The Patriot, the villain (a British officer played by Harry Potter baddie Jason Isaacs) is a vicious killing machine with no desire to live other than to burn women and children alive. So, short of having his skin peeled off, there can be no satisfaction in his demise. And there is none. Which, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, makes this a very long, hard slog.
3. The Patriot veers wildly from the manipulative (excess depictions of crying and/or dying children) to the sitcomish (Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat uses tension-breaking quips between men-in-war and then expands them into broad cartoonish gag scenes worthy of “The Jeffersons”) to near-spoofs of beer commercials (the slow-motion as men high-five after winning the big battle is missing only the bosomy blondes and frothy pitchers of ale, and the scene where Gibson gets romantic with Joely Richardson is a replica of Corona commercials).
4. The best part of the movie is when Gibson appears heroically, flag in hand, and all the militia scream “Huzzah!” but it sounds exactly like “Wazzzzzzzzzuuuuuuuuup!”
5. The Patriot is predictable. If you don’t know whose life the stoic black-man-fighting for his freedom will save; if you don’t know that the moment Gibson gives his daughter-in-law a necklace, it is proof of her death; if you don’t know the “trick” played on the Brits to gain the release of American militia; if you don’t know the fate of a warship off in the distance as the Brits live the high-life and General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson moans about his less-than-spectacular uniform), you are not very observant.
6 There are a few historical inaccuracies. My favorite is the use of exploding cannonballs. They hadn’t been invented yet, but you can just see Emmerich screaming “I vant it BIGGER!!!!!!” And when Isaacs character burns an entire church filled with women and children, based on an incident from World War II when Nazi soldiers burned a group of French villagers alive, I’m sure Emmerich was there screaming, ‘I vant him MEANER!!!!!!”.