You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Boston’

The Boston Marathon’s century-plus history, and post-terrorist attack resiliency, are detailed in this informative, affecting doc.

Jon Dunham
Matt Damon (narrator).
Release Date:
Sep 22, 2017

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6654082/

The resiliency of the Boston Marathon, both historically and in the wake of the 2013 terrorist bombing at its finish line, is roundly celebrated in “Boston,” whose title directly suggests the fundamental relationship shared between the race and its city. Breaking little ground but functioning as a handy primer on the event’s century-plus ups and downs, as well as its efforts to rebound from the tragedy that befell it four years earlier, Jon Dunham’s documentary gracefully achieves its admirable ends. Whether seen in L.A. theaters when it screens Sept. 22 or later at home, it’s a worthy tribute bound to illuminate and inspire.

The doc begins with race director Dave McGillivray, local officials and former champions discussing the importance — and logistical organizational hurdles — of the 2014 iteration. The need to safeguard participants and spectators predictably proves to be of primary importance, although Dunham’s film isn’t really interested in the nitty-gritty of how those ends might be achieved. Rather, it’s content to provide snapshots of those preparations before seguing into a recap of the race’s origins, as well as its most groundbreaking turning points. In those passages, what emerges is a sense of the marathon’s defining spirit of endurance and communal camaraderie — later epitomized by the region’s post-bombing “Boston Strong” movement.

From discussions about early winners boasting colorful names such as Bill Longboat, Ronald MacDonald and Bill “Bricklayer” Kennedy, to interviews with more recent victors like Amby Burfoot and Bill Rodgers,“Boston” lays out a clear timeline of the race’s evolution. In local legend Johnny Kelly, who finished 58 of his 61 races, Dunham’s film evokes the intrinsic homegrown aspect of the marathon; meanwhile, Kelly’s friendship with Greek runner Stylianos Kyriakides — who’d best Kelly in 1946 — captures its inherently global character. By using the race to raise money for his WWII-ravaged native country, Kyriakides became the world’s first charity runner, thus establishing a trend that now dominates virtually every domestic and international marathon.

Funded by John Hancock, which also sponsors the race itself, “Boston” touches on myriad groundbreaking marathon moments — its first female runners; its embrace of Japanese competitors; its plethora of African winners — from an upbeat, uncomplicated perspective. As such, there’s very little dramatic tension to the proceedings, either when it gazes into the past or when it confronts the 2014 race, which even casual sports fans will know ahead of time went off without a hitch. Informative and moving without ever feeling particularly incisive, Dunham’s doc is the sort of informational movie fit for a museum exhibit, replete with Matt Damon’s narration, a stirring Boston Symphony Orchestra score and uniformly entertaining and illuminating archival footage of races gone by.

Knowledge of the ending doesn’t diminish the film’s rousing power, both during discussions of its most unique incidents — such as pioneering female runner Kathrine Switzer being accosted, mid-race, by chauvinistic official Jock Semple — and during its address of the 2013 attack. In that sequence, which is buoyed by new interviews with men and women who were competing that day and/or waiting to watch contestants cross the finish line, “Boston” becomes an undeniably affecting salute to Bostonians’ toughness, selflessness and sacrifice in the face of unthinkable horrors, and also to their decision, one year later, to return to the race in a concerted show of courage and resolve.

Film Review: ‘Boston’

Reviewed online, Stamford, Conn., Sept. 18, 2017. Running time: 114 MIN.

Production: (Documentary) A La Roma Films release of a John Hancock presentation in association with the Kennedy/Marshall Co. and La Roma Films. Producers: Megan Williams, Jon Dunham, Eleanor Bingham Miller. Executive producers: Frank Marshall, Tom Derderian, David Williams. Co-producer: Ryan Suffern.

Crew: Director: Jon Dunham. Screenplay: Leonard Feinstein, Michie Gleason. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Dunham, Harris Done. Editor: Leonard Feinstein. Music: Jeff Beal.

With: Matt Damon (narrator).

More Film

  • Carol Burnett

    Carol Burnett's Mother-Daughter Story 'Carrie and Me' in Development as a Movie

    Carol Burnett’s bestseller “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story” is in the works as a movie at Focus Features with Burnett, Tina Fey, Eric Gurian, and Steven Rogers producing. Burnett will produce through her Mabel Cat Productions with Fey and Gurian under their production banner Little Stranger along with Rogers (“I, Tonya”). The sibling [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Plans for Agency Pact Expiration: 'There Will Be Difficult Moments'

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent members contingency plans for the possible expiration of its agency franchise agreement on April 7 — and admitted that it may be a rocky road. Members received the letter Tuesday from the guild’s negotiating committee as the WGA and agents were about the hold their seventh [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Entertainment One, Universal to Partner on Home Entertainment

    Entertainment One and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have signed a multi-year, multi-territory distribution agreement. UPHE will serve as the home entertainment distributor of eOne’s offerings across both physical and digital formats. The pact covers film, television, and select family content and includes all sales, marketing, and distribution, spanning the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Spain, Australia, [...]

  • Will Smith Jada Pinkett Smith

    AFI, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation Launch Second Young Women in Film Intensive

    The AFI Conservatory and the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation have partnered to launch the second annual Young Women in Film Intensive. The AFI Campus in Los Angeles will host 45 high school girls for an eight-week filmmaking workshop, where students will receive mentorship from current fellows and working professional alumni of the AFI [...]

  • Paul Davidson

    The Orchard Head Content Executive Paul Davidson Steps Down

    At the finish line of its sale to 1091 Media, distributor the Orchard’s film and TV head Paul Davidson is parting ways with the company. In an amicable split, the creative executive addressed staff in person and in a company-wide memo on Tuesday in New York City to inform them of his decision. More Reviews [...]

  • Ava DuVernay Toby Emmerich Michael Douglas

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, Michael Douglas to Speak at Produced By Conference

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, and Michael Douglas will speak at the Producers Guild of America’s 11th Produced By Conference. The event will be held on June 8-9 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. More Reviews West End Review: 'Emilia' Film Review: Tim Burton's 'Dumbo' Other notable speakers include Netflix executive Cindy Holland; Blumhouse producer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content