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The story is set during the revolutionary war. Gibson plays a former soldier who is now more of a pacifist - he advises councilmen against going to war with England, but they pay no attention to him. When the war starts, he doesn't want to serve himself - he has seven children, and his wife is dead. He also doesn't want his son Gabriel to go to war, but Gabriel signs up.
After that the plot gets quite complicated, and takes several twists and turns.
I understand the British are pretty mad about this movie. It seems they didn't like the way we portrayed the British army. Give me a break. It's like they say in sports: We played, you lost, quit crying! In other words, the British should quite whining and stop being sore losers.
But I like to think I can look at things from both points of view. And if they had made this movie with a British father and son, I would have liked it just as well. However, I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as successful in the U.S., for obvious reasons.
As far as historical movies go, my main problem with war stories is that everyone already knows what happened. In this case, it doesn't matter too much because The Patriot has a strong plot. But many movies suffer because of the subject matter's place in history. So I have a suggestion: In the future, moviemakers should make movies about imaginary wars so moviegoers won't know the outcome in advance.
All said, I really can't complain about The Patriot. The special effects were terrific, the plot was well- woven (although it seemed a bit unrealistic and hard to believe at times) and the cast was enjoyable. I recommend The Patriot as a good movie to see this Fourth of July - or any time.
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