This film may give you chills when you see the old red, white and blue flag. And it may make you say that you’re proud to be an American. Which is kind of ironic considering it’s directed by a German and stars two Australians. Mel Gibson is at the center of the Patriot, the story of a reluctant hero caught up in the American Revolution in 1776.
Benjamin Martin was the hero of the French and Indian conflict. A widower, he is now settled with seven children and all the responsibility that comes with a family. When the redcoats invade to enforce the king’s law, Martin refuses to bloody his hands in another war. Against Martin’s wishes, his idealistic son Gabriel played by Australian actor Heath Ledger, joins the war to fight with the rebels and stand for freedom from British rule. When the war comes to Martin’s own home in South Carolina, it is here that he finally takes a stand. He hides his family then organizes a rebel militia to wage a guerilla war against the redcoats. Martin constantly outwits a brutal Colonel named Tavington played brilliantly by Jason Isaacs, who will stop at nothing to see him dead.
The Patriot features some of the most spectacular battle sequences ever filmed. The images of war are not glorified as the cost of the carnage is displayed in all of its brutality. This comes as no surprise since the film was written by Robert Rodat, the screenwriter behind Saving Private Ryan. Gibson’s American accent is decent which is not a surprise since a lot of people don’t know that he is actually an American born in New York and raised in Australia. He turns in a solid performance as the conflicted warrior and family man. The Patriot’s, well, patriotic message is not exactly subtle, but it is not disturbingly blind in films such as Top Gun or Rocky IV.
The producing and directing team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, who brought us Independence Day, have delivered an epic story about a shining moment in our country’s history. So, I forgive them for their last film Godzilla. The Patriot is not just Braveheart with pants and muskets, it’s the best film ever made about the Revolutionary War.