The Patriot

You didn't read this in your sixth-grade history book, but if Mel Gibson hadn't taught guerilla warfare to the rebellious colonials, there might not be an American republic. That's mean, of course. But star power like Gibson's doesn't get subsumed into character, and that you never lose sight of the fact you're not watching Benjamin Martin — South...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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You didn't read this in your sixth-grade history book, but if Mel Gibson hadn't taught guerilla warfare to the rebellious colonials, there might not be an American republic. That's mean, of course. But star power like Gibson's doesn't get subsumed into

character, and that you never lose sight of the fact you're not watching Benjamin Martin — South Carolina landowner, respected veteran and father of seven motherless children — rather than a really big star swanning around in cool, old-fashioned clothes seriously undermines this

epic's powerful historical underpinnings. The year is 1776, revolution is in the air, and all Martin wants is to keep his head — and those of his teenage sons — down. Martin is haunted by his memories of the brutal French and Indian War, especially what he learned about war's ability to

unleash the beast within. But his idealistic son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) enlists in the Continental Army, and soon Martin is back on the field, reluctantly commanding a ragtag militia with more heart than English General Cornwallis's (Tom Wilkinson) entire army. Outmanned and outgunned, the rebels

use surprise, misdirection and the people's support to undermine the redcoats. But can they withstand sadistic Colonel Tavington's (Jason Isaacs) bloody reprisals against their families? Though a step up, prestige-wise, from GODZILLA and INDEPENDENCE DAY, this project in no way exploits director

Roland Emmerich's strengths. His pulp sensibility made INDEPENDENCE DAY a cotton-candy blast, but reduces what may well have been a complex and thoughtful screenplay by SAVING PRIVATE RYAN's Robert Rodat into a shameless knockoff of UNFORGIVEN. The film is undeniably handsome (though certain sets

have the disconcerting look of a museum diorama), but no cliché is left unturned, right down to the spray of toy soldiers falling from the hand of a dead child. Everything old isn't new again.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: You didn't read this in your sixth-grade history book, but if Mel Gibson hadn't taught guerilla warfare to the rebellious colonials, there might not be an American republic. That's mean, of course. But star power like Gibson's doesn't get subsumed into ch… (more)

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