In 1776 in South Carolina, farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson – Braveheart, Payback) is a widower who is living a quiet life with his children. Martin was a war-hero during the French-Indian wars, but he now is against everything and anything to do with war. This is contrary to his two oldest sons, Gabriel (Heath Ledger – A Knight’s Tale, Brokeback Mountain) and Thomas (Gregory Smith – from television’s Everwood), who can’t wait to go to war. Despite the fact that Martin votes against going to war versus the Brits; the war happens and begins on American soil. South Carolina votes to join in the war and Gabriel joins the army against his father’s wishes. The Revolutionary War is underway.
As the fighting begins to move closer and closer to the family farm, Martin becomes more and more nervous. Gabriel arrives, injured, at the farm one night and Martin and the servants tend to him. Soon many injured soldiers, from both sides of the battle, start showing up and Martin opens his house to them. English Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Black Hawk Down), a brutal man, captures Gabriel and orders him to be hung. Thomas tries to save his brother and is shot down by Tavington. Martin vows to Tavington that he will kill him. He sends his children off to live with his sister-in-law, Charlotte Selton (Joely Richardson – Return to Me, The Hotel New Hampshire), on her plantation. To avenge the death of one son and to try and save the other one, Martin joins the ranks of the American army to fight against the British.
To justify a re-release of this film from the year 2000, an additional 10 minutes have been added on to it. All the additional 10 minutes did was make a film that was probably too long to begin with even longer. For me this was your typical Mel Gibson flick. He is an intelligent, well-respected man who people follow and he is an expert in combat.
What is not typical about this film is that even though we know that the Americans win the war so things do work out in the end, Gibson’s character has to endure much tragedy beforehand. A heavy price is paid by his family.
Unlike some of the criticisms of the film, I don’t expect all films to be historically accurate (it is entertainment and not a documentary), but I do expect some entertainment value out of them. My level of enjoyment was hampered by the fact that I felt the film was a little self-indulgent on Mel Gibson’s part and also the fact that it felt as if he was mailing in his performance. Maybe he has done this type of thing too often and he should try something else.
Other than this, director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla) has constructed a paint by numbers type of film. Nothing out of the ordinary happens, the story is fairly predictable and the acting is decent. This film falls under the not too bad, but not too great category of films.
- Director & Producer Commentary
- 7 Deleted Scenes with Commentary
- Three Featurettes:
- “The Art of War”
- “The True Patriots”
- “Visual Effects Interactive”
- Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons
- Photo Galleries
- Theatrical Trailer