“The Patriot” was directed by Roland Emmerich who known for his other films including “Universal Soldier”, “Independence Day” (the irony), “2012”, “White House Down” & the 1998 American version of “Godzilla”. The film stars Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Chris Cooper, Jason Isaacs, Tcheky Karyo, Tom Wilkinson and Joely Richardson. The film is set in the months leading to what is now known as The American Revolution as well as Southern Theater of the American Revolutionary War.
In 1775, all are called to Charleston, South Carolina to support the Continental Army against the Army of Great Britain. The town is divided by those who support the Continental Army like Colonel Harry Burwell (Cooper) & those oppose. Among the town is Benjamin Martin (Gibson), former soldier during the French & Indian War, chooses to oppose the the Army’s plea due to his brutal yet dramatic experience of War and him also being a widower with 7 children. Despite his opposition, Martin’s oldest son, Gabriel (Ledger), joins the Army anyway. 2 years later, the British Army take over Charleston. Gabriel returns home wounded and carry Continental dispatches and is comforted by his father & family. The next morning, Gabriel wakes up to his father & the farmhands helping other wounded soldiers. Colonel William Tavington (Isaacs) and the British Dragoons show up and after finding the dispatches, take Gabriel into custody. Benjamin pleas with the Colonel but refuses even goes as far to threaten his children. While British begin tying up Gabriel & Benjamin gathers his children, his second oldest son, Thomas (Gregory Smith), charges at the soldiers with Gabriel in an attempt to free him. Before Benjamin can act, Tavington shoots and kills Thomas. Enraged, Benjamin takes his next older sons and ambushes the group that have Gabriel. The 3 boys are shocked as Benjamin brutally murders the soldiers & Gabriel then rejoins the Army. Benjamin leaves his remaining children with their Aunt Charlotte (Richardson) while he joins Gabriel and the Continental Army. They are met by Burwell who was promoted to General, and are given the task of recruiting more men to stop the British along with a French Captain, Jean Villeneuve (Karyo). Tavington and his men return to their leader, General Cornwallis (Wilkinson) to find what happen to his majesty’s men after they left that particular South Carolina farm despite them burnong to the ground and killing all the wounded soldiers.
Roland Emmerich’s films are mainly the big blockbuster disaster movies. This was a much smaller film as far as scale went but it did have some great action sequences. The performances were good, storytelling was a bit cliche but then again it worked for the scale. Gibson and Ledger were great. I really don’t have a whole lot to complain about this movie. It is a solid war movie with great acting and good action sequences. It may not be “Saving Private Ryan” or “Platoon” good but it has its own enjoyment. I’ve heard complaints of historical inaccuracy with this film but then again same thing can be said about films based on novels or comic books or video games. Things change, good or bad for both storytelling and to make a coherent film.
Mel Gibson wouldn’t go far from the war genre as he would star in 2002’s “We Were Soldiers” and then later direct 2016’s Academy Award nominated film, “Hacksaw Ridge”. Gibson’s career was all acting from the late 70’s to the 2000’s. Starring in memorable films like “Mad Max”, “Lethal Weapon” & “Braveheart”. After he directed “Braveheart”, he would go on to direct more films in the 2000’s such as “The Passion of the Christ” & “Apocalypto” and also 1993’s “The Man Without a Face”. Heath Ledger would also go on to have an amazing career after this film. Starring in films like “Monster’s Ball”, “A Knight’s Tale”, “The Order” & “The Brothers Grimm”. In 2005, he received his first Academy Award nomination for his role 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain”. His finest work came in 2008 when he was casts as “The Joker” in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. However, while this would be his best work it would also be his last as he passed away in late 2007, six months prior the film’s release. Ledger would win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. At the time of his death, he was filming “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”. which would see fellow actors, Johnny Depp, Jude Law & Colin Farrell complete the film as Ledger’s character.