Aimed directly at a mainstream audience,
i The Patriot
i0 qualifies as respectable entertainment, but anyone expecting a definitive drama about the American Revolution should look elsewhere. Rising above the blatant crowd pleasing of
i Independence Day
i0 , and
i0 , director Roland Emmerich crafts a marvelous re-creation of South Carolina in the late 1770s (aided immeasurably by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel), and Robert Rodat's screenplay offers the same balance of epic scale and emotional urgency that elevated his earlier script for
i Saving Private Ryan
i0 . Unfortunately, Emmerich embraces clich'e9s and hackneyed melodrama that a more gifted director would have avoided. Instead of attempting a truly great film about the most pivotal years of American history, Emmerich settles for a standard revenge plot with the Revolutionary War as an incidental backdrop.
On those terms, the film is engrossing and sufficiently intelligent, especially when militia leader Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) cagily negotiates with British General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) in one of the most rewarding scenes. For the most part, the story concerns Martin's anguished quest for revenge against ruthless redcoat Colonel Tavington (played with snide relish by Jason Isaacs), and the rise to manhood of Martin's eldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), whose battlefield honor exceeds even that of his brutally volatile father. At its best,
i The Patriot
i0 conveys the horror of war among innocent civilians, and the epic battle scenes, while by no means masterful, are graphically intense and impressive. And although Ledger's love interest (Lisa Brenner) is too bland to register much emotion, the focus on family (which frequently relegates the war to background history) provides a suitable vehicle for Gibson, who matches his achievement in
i0 with an effectively brooding performance.
i --Jeff Shannon
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|fullTitle:||The Patriot (Special Edition)|