Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.
The movie takes place in South Carolina in 1776. Benjamin Martin, a French-Indian war hero who is haunted by his past, is a patriot who wants no part in a war with Britian. Meanwhile, his two eldest sons, Gabriel and Thomas, can't wait to go out and kill some Redcoats. When South Carolina decides to go to war with Britain, Gabriel immediatly signs up to fight...without his father's permission. But soon, Colonel Tavington, British solder infamous for his brutal tactiks, captures Gabriel and sentences him to be hanged. As Gabriel is taken away, Thomas tries to free him, only to be killed by Tavington, in front of Benjamin. Now, seeking revenge for his son's death, Benjamin leaves behind his five other children to bring independence to the 13 colonies.
Aimed directly at a mainstream audience, The Patriot
qualifies as respectable entertainment, but anyone expecting a definitive drama about the American Revolution should look elsewhere. Rising above the blatant crowd pleasing of Stargate
, Independence Day
, director Roland Emmerich crafts a marvellous 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 Saving Private Ryan
. Unfortunately, Emmerich embraces clichés 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 honour exceeds even that of his brutally volatile father. At its best, The Patriot
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 Braveheart
with an effectively brooding performance. --Jeff Shannon
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.