I'm a part time actor and part time writer living in Perth. I love being on stage. I love going out with friends, doesn't matter what we do
Published March 14th 2013
Mel Gibson & Heath Ledger flex their acting muscles
The Patriot stars Mel Gibson as Benjamin Martin, a veteran of the British army who was a hero during the French and Indian war. Twenty years later, he has no love for the monarchy but some scepticism about the alternative. He asks, "Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away?" and "I haven't got the luxury of principles." More than that, his memories of the atrocities of war, his own as well as the enemy's, and his passion for protecting his seven children won't allow him to fight again. But when Benjamin's son is killed by a British soldier, he throws guns to his younger boys, straps several onto himself, and goes off to fight his own personal war, a sort of Robin Hood crossed with Terminator.
There's a long Hollywood tradition of reluctant heroes who are forced into violence, thus giving us the best of both worlds with a hero whose heart is in the right place, but whose muscles and gun are, too. So, Benjamin has to find a reason to fight. It would have been nice if that reason had something to do with liberty and democracy, but instead it's about revenge. The only heartfelt struggle for independence in the movie is teen-age rebellion. And, producing/directing team Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich play fast and loose with historical facts here. Colonel Tavington is a villain so reprehensible that he not only burns down a church filled with civilians, he enjoys it.
This is a very enjoyable summer popcorn movie, sumptuously and excitingly filmed, and rousingly entertaining. The action sequences play well, and the black characters are treated with as much dignity as possible. Gibson delivers, as always. He is utterly compelling whether he is hacking an opponent to death, looking tenderly at a tiny daughter who will not speak to him, or agonizing over his past sins. Fellow Aussie Heath Ledger is superb as oldest son Gabriel, at first impatient to join the fight, later a brave and mature soldier and an ardent suitor.