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REVIEW: ‘American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing’ Captures Every Second

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American Manhunt The Boston Marathon Bombing — But Why Tho (1)

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing is an emotional and blood-boiling three-part documentary series directed by Floyd Russ. It tells the story of the devastating terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013. Starting with a haunting piece of dialogue, “If people want to hurt people, they’ll find ways to do it”, it really strikes you in the chest. The timing of the release of this documentary will also hit hard as it premieres just three days before the 10-year anniversary of the attack that left three dead and numerous injuries.

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing doesn’t just look back at the attack and inform the viewers. Through handheld footage from that day, audiences experience a real account of the horror that occurred. The footage the Netflix series shows is very distressing, particularly when it shows the crowd, with some of them being young children, fleeing for their lives after the first bomb detonates. As uncomfortable as it is, it’s needed to demonstrate the horror of that day.

Along the way, we meet several other individuals from the attack, including members of the police department, Ed Davis and Carmen Ortiz. Although one-on-one interviews are pretty much the norm in a Netflix documentary, they feel much more touching in American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing. That’s partly because as the doc-series delves into the details of the attack, it becomes clear that this literally could happen to anyone, anywhere.

Throughout the three episodes, we hear harrowing tales of survival. But none of the stories included is as tragic as what Karen McWatters has to say. After being injured in the attack, she was mistakenly given Krystle Campbell’s mobile phone. As this led to a case of mistaken identity, Karen’s family believed she was among the deceased, whilst Krystle’s family initially believed she had survived. As Karen retells the event, it’s hard not to feel the emotion. 

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing is tremendously good at detailing the horrific aftermath that followed beyond the bombing itself. Through detailed interviews, audiences receive a detailed account of the fear that Boston faced. With little to no information on who was responsible for the two homemade pressure cooker bombs, the authorities faced a tough mission to prevent a possible second attack and to provide the public with answers. It’s a situation that no one would want to be placed in.

With intercuts of news reports and several clips of real-time footage that blend with an hour-by-hour timeline, the docuseries makes every second feel vital. A surprising element of the series is how, despite occurring in 2013, it spread fake news like wildfire. Unknown individuals created fake photos/news reports that not only wasted critical police time but also resulted in unwarranted racial abuse. That’s a shocking testimony to hear. Even more frustrating is the thought that certain people will use a devastating attack just to promote hate.

On the whole, American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing is a well-made three-part series. But given the subject of the documentary, it is not an easy watch. Even ten years after the attack, the audience’s emotions will, naturally, still be strong. And the series will provoke debate from the viewers. None more as questionable as to whether the leaked photo of the terror suspects actually helped or hindered the investigation. American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing offers nothing new to the documentary genre. However, that doesn’t take away from the skill and evident work that has gone into making it.

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing is now streaming on Netflix.

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing offers nothing new to the documentary genre. However, that doesn’t take away from the skill and evident work that has gone into making it.

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