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|August 12, 2000||
For Flag, Country -- And A Whole Lotta Blood!
The Roland Emmerich-Dean Devlin team - creators of the blockbuster Independence Day and then touched the revered tail of the prehistoric monster Godzilla and had more than their heads chewed off - are back with another biggie: The Patriot.
What is it all about? Let’s begin with the dope. We’ll discuss the film later.
A former hero of the French and Indian War, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) has renounced fighting forever to raise his family in peace. Once a wily, efficient and ferocious soldier, he is now domesticated, widowed and living a peaceful life with his seven children on his massive South Carolina plantation.
But rebellion is brewing. War breaks out in England.
Martin refuses to go to battle, but his oldest impressionable son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), harbours no such doubts. Gabriel defiantly joins the fight. Which leaves Benjamin torn: though he is anti-war, he believes in the cause.
His dilemma is solved when the British soldiers, led by the cruel Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs), arrive at his doorstep. With his household threatened, Martin agrees to take up arms alongside his idealistic patriot son and lead a brave rebel Militia to battle.
If you saw Gibson’s Oscar-winning bloody epic, Braveheart, you will find this one doesn’t really make as much of an impact the former did. Why? For one, the casting - Mel Gibson - is repetitive. He wears a kilt and fights for freedom with much the same savagery and the same enemy!
Oscar-nominee scriptwriter Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), strives hard to convince us that the Colonel is really evil. Witness the hard-hitting scene in which Col Tavington locks women, children and old men in a Church and burns them alive for supporting Capt Martin and his band of swamp soldiers.
In trying to make the film politically correct, Rodat gets romantic in his treatment of slaves. Col Martin’s black servants and landsmen are apparently free, which is an unlikely situation for the times. It seems an exaggerated effort to add nobility to Martin’s cause. One of Martin’s soldiers is someone else’s slave who continues to fight because he is promised money and freedom if he serves the Colonials for one year.
What the makers forgot was that the ‘evil’ British banished slavery long before the Americans did. That aside, the film is set on a huge canvas with some well designed and choreographed blood and gore. The scene in which Martin kills the soldiers to save his children’s lives is shocking in its intensity.
The creators of the film realised the fallacy they made with Godzilla. The USP of Independence Day, besides the effects, was its characterisation: they were very real and well-etched. Godzilla had none.
Now, The Patriot unashamedly goes for the heart with melodramatic scenes put in simply to tug at the heartstrings. Watch it and you can pick them out, while brushing away your tears.
The Patriot harks back to old epics - sheer in scale and huge. But then, that’s what Emmerich and Devlin are best known for. Watch the film for an evening filled with action and 22 gallons of blood (the official figure, minus the blood used by make-up artists).
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