DIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich
May Contain Spoilers!
This was one of the last films that Mel Gibson would star before he directed the hugely controversial The Passion Of The Christ (2004) and his fall from grace throughout the latter 2000’s, as well as the first major film Roland Emmerich (Independence Day (1996) & Godzilla (1998) would make without his long time colaberating parter, Dean Devlin. The Patriot tells the fictional story of a man who is drafted into the U.S. revolutionary army in 1776 after one of his sons is murdered by a British officer (Jason Isaacs) and his house is burned down.
Gibson’s character is the nice guy who had done and will do again, horrendous things in war and he must effectively win The War Of Independence single handedly in order to protect what’s left of his family. The James Stewart classic, Shenandoah (1965) springs to mind with this one, as in order for James Stewart to rescue his son who has joined the Confederate Army in the American Civil War, he ends up loosing more of his children. But The Patriot is a flawed film. In the year of Gladiator (2000), is this an epic? No. Is it an historically accurate film? No. It is a propaganda piece which demonstrates the American predilection with its revolutionary heroes being just that, and that the English are pretty evil and want nothing more than to keep them down.
Nothing sums this up more than having Mel Gibson using and proto-American flag as a spear to impale the bad guys at the end. The British were bad and deserved to expelled from the U.S.A. in The War Of Independence, I’m not disputing that but the image of the almost whiter than white, noble American hero seems to be a little naive to me and diminishes the story on the whole.
But that said, the story is quite captivating, the characters are enjoyable, with Issacs eating up the scenery as the dastardly villain and Gibson as Mad Max (1979) as always in films like this. Good fun, nicely shot and helped along by a good score by John Williams, The Patriot is no Gladiator but its a decent enough look at the American Revolution without going all George Washington. And the emotional nods to classic western Shenandoah did it no harm what so ever.