Best of
lMovie Review
"The Patriot"
By Mira Harber
     The presidential election results and the possible outcome is fascinating. How does democracy work? Who decides how the country is going to be run?  What rules, what principles, what values?  What better time to watch the new-video release of The Patriot than now?
     You know you're in for a 'beautiful' historical drama as soon as the first images cross the screen - golden, sunlit vistas, swelling music, beautiful children and servants; there is nobody average looking in this war.
     The anti-hero of this movie is Benjamin Marten, played by Mel Gibson.  He is a widower with seven children who at first discusses the futility of war and says, "I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of principles," when he declines to enter the war for independence from Britain. When one son is callously murdered by the English and the other son is taken off to be hanged, Benjamin is finally spurred into joining the war. Mel plays his part to the hilt and turns in a commanding performance.
The only problem is "Haven't I seen this movie before?" (It's pretty much Braveheart Does America. The similarities are many, right down to the murdered wife and her necklace/scarf being the only reminders of a marriage cut short, etc., etc.). This is really an action movie pretending to be an historical drama. The battle scenes are rousing; the slow motion; hand-to-hand, man-to-man fighting; horses rearing, bayonets piercing and muskets firing; smoke, blood and guts. This movie gives us a good idea of what the combat was really like and is much more affecting than the usual video-game deaths we see in most action movies.
     One obvious point that struck me is in this story of the founding days of America was that none of the principal actors are American. Mel/Benjamin and his son are both Australian, the over-the-top evil colonel is British of course, even Mel's love interest is played by another English actor, affecting an American accent (Joely Richardson).
     The young, charming (in a goofy way) son is played by another Australian heartthrob, Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You) and he seems a natural successor to Mel/Benjamin. He has an easy, cheeky charm that is hard to resist and I can certainly see a bright cinematic future for him.
     Despite the fact that The Patriot was a cliché-ridden, shlocky story, replete with caricatures at every turn and accompanied by amazingly bad sentimental, swelling, soaring music I liked it! I couldn't help but feel a certain satisfaction when the hero and villain meet for a winner takes all ending, when I cheered when the troops roared as they charged and good (us) triumphs in the end.
     Jason Isaacs merits particular mention as the villainous Colonel Tavington.  He is one of those 'bad to the bone' men that you just love to hate. He chewed up the scenery every chance he got, and was an excellent counterpart to 'for my country' Mel. If you want a simple, good story with lots of action, this is the movie for you.


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