I was recently on a relatively long flight and instead of taking my usual route of reading a new novel, I decided to see what movies I had on my iPad library. Pleasantly surprised, I saw that I had The Patriot. Now, to understand my excitement I should probably provide context about myself. I grew up in the state of Virginia, and honestly I don’t believe there is any other state that loves themselves and their history more than the state of Virginia. Every subject I had, whether it be math or science always found a way to tie in concepts to the state of Virginia, so it would be obvious that I remember my history classes most of all. Every 5th grader had to pass a state test about the history of Virginia in order to progress to the next grade so we spent all year preparing for it. Being a naturally inquiring mind for most of my life (and having a mother that encouraged me in whatever I was curious in at the moment) I spent most weekends on battlefields and learning the true nature of the events that took place. The Patriot was the first Rated R film I was allowed to watch as a kid and I still remember my mother forcing me to close my eyes on any particularly gory scene (and like any child, I would peak regardless). I do want to make it clear that I realize that Mel Gibson is probably one of THE most problematic individuals in Hollywood at the moment and I am in no way a supporter of the terrible actions he has taken. However, I do feel a deep connection to this film that has deep ties to who I am as a person.
I have never in my life – and you all know that I’ve seen quite a few movies in my time – simultaneously loathed and respected a character more than that of Col. William Tavington aka The Butcher. Jason Isaacs playing this role completely took my breath away. He was absolutely ruthless and you couldn’t help but hate him. It all begins the moment Jason Isaacs enters on screen. Immediately he orders houses to be burned, wounded to be murdered and people to be hanged. He does not follow the rules of engagement in a time when such things were sacred. He did not make distinctions between soldiers and women/children. His goal was riches and glory and nothing would deter him, no matter the means. The fact that his natural instinct was to find and kill Benjamin Martin’s children in order to get to him speaks volumes to his character.
Jason Isaacs acting ability in The Patriot is phenomenal. Sometimes I find it hard to differentiate this actor from his character because of how well he embodied it. You feel the detachment. You feel the disdain for all humanity. But most of all, you feel his hunger to achieve his goals. For that I have to give a begrudging respect although it pains me to do so. Not to mention Mel Gibson and Jason Isaacs have one of the most climactic ending battle scenes. To this day it makes me hold my breath even though I know the outcome.
Col William Tavington is the standard of bad for me. I can’t help but to compare all others to him. I don’t want sympathetic backgrounds. I don’t want an explanation of why bad guys make the decisions they do. I want unapologetic, dark and gritty. My only wish is that we would hold the same standard for women villains. I am so utterly sick and tired of the ‘woman scorned’ storyline it’s not even funny. I am dying for a female villain that is bad for bad’s sake and I look forward to the day I see a film with just that.