Self-appointed Boston ambassador Mark Wahlberg has announced his intention to honor the Boston Marathon bombing by making a movie about it. From Hollywood’s perspective, the tragedy that unfolded in 2013 is perfect big-screen fodder: There are the self-radicalized brothers operating in secret, the graphic carnage, the heroism of first-responders, and the city-wide manhunt that occurred while entire neighborhoods were placed in lockdown.
Now the people of Boston are weighing in, and it turns out that they aren’t thrilled with the idea of being perfect fodder. “How does someone who markets himself as `a Boston guy’ not see that it is far too soon, that the city is still far too sad for its trauma to be transformed into mass entertainment?,” asks Brandeis journalism professor Eileen McNamara.
Boston.com’s Charlotte Wilder also recently penned a criticism titled “It’s Too Soon For Mark Wahlberg’s Boston Marathon Bombing Movie.” Wilder says Wahlberg should be more sensitive to the fact that local nerves are still frayed, writing, “Wahlberg—who plays up his Boston roots whenever he gets the chance—picked the wrong time to break the news.”
Amid the criticisms, however, appears to be a resigned acknowledgment that, frayed nerves or not, Boston Marathon bombing movies are going to happen. Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, whom Walhberg would be portraying in Patriot’s Day, said about his involvement in the project, “I didn’t have the right to stop them. I could either work with them or not…I talked to them at length and I thought it would be better to have some input - to make sure that the depiction was done properly.” (Hopefully, “properly” will not include parkour chases across crane scaffolding, high-speed boat stunts, or command center geeks breaking the case by magically enhancing surveillance camera footage.)
To be fair to Wahlberg, Patriot’s Day is just one of a handful of projects that Boston is trying to overlook: Boston Strong is being penned by the scribes behind The Fighter, an event television series is in the works, Altar Rock will bring a “Law & Order approach” to the story, and Stronger will chronicle survivor Jeff Bauman’s recovery after losing both his legs.
In the meantime, it’s not clear if Hollywood will wait and see how the second phase of the trial turns out, seeing as that’s not actually over yet, or if they’ll just take care of all that history stuff during reshoots.