Noted actor, model, and erstwhile Funky Bunch member Mark Wahlberg raised a few eyebrows in 2012 when he claimed that had he boarded the planes used for the September 11 terrorist attacks, things would have gone down a little differently. Suggesting that you could have singlehandedly prevented the most traumatic disaster in American history is big talk, but now Wahlberg will get the chance to put his money where his terrorist-fighting mouth is with Patriots Day, a dramatization of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. We may be too late for a Mark Wahlberg-led United 93 reimagined as a two-hour beatdown, but this looks like the next best thing.

Patriots Day will complete Wahlberg’s “American Heroes With Whom You Feel Like You Could Share A Cold Brewski” trilogy with director Peter Berg, a film cycle begun by war drama Lone Survivor and continued earlier this year with Deepwater Horizon. Here, he portrays goodhearted police sergeant Tommy Saunders (pronounced “goodhahted police sahjint Tawmy Sawndiz”) on duty at the world-renowned Boston Marathon when improvised pressure-cooker explosives detonate and throw the event into chaos. It falls to Tommy and his brothers in law enforcement to aid the wounded, evacuate the unharmed, and track down the terrorists responsible before they strike again.

The film’s focus stays on the boys in blue, but the narrative also checks in on a comely nurse (Michelle Monaghan) and higher-ups such as the FBI Special Agent on the scene (Kevin Bacon) and the police commissioner (John Goodman). They’re going to have to band together and believe in the power of love if they’re going to complete this daunting mission without turning a genuine American tragedy into something that feels emotionally exploitative. Patriots Day opens in limited release on December 21, and expands wider January 13.

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