The Boondock Saints
Crime thrillers have been on the cinematic scene since the beginning of motion pictures as a major form of entertainment. A staple of the American film studios were the gangster flicks where the audience could live vicariously through the lawless protagonist on the screen. It was not unusual for the stories to contrast a pair of brothers. The naturally enough both grew up in the most modest of circumstances and inevitably one would either grow up to become either a priest or the district attorney. The other brother would therefore have to be a notorious gangster with the only common ground with his sibling being the lover of their elderly, saintly mother. In the movie ‘The Boondock Saints’ the audience is treated to a set of fraternal twins but in this case both are technically on the wrong side of the law. They are vigilantes which brings us to another popular theme for crime flicks. This genre was always popular as part of the western phase in movies but in 1974 Charles Bronson brought taking the law into your own hands to a entirely new level. Since then there have been numerous flicks of employing this theme and typically they are well received by the audience if not always the critical community. There is something about revenge and vigilante justice that strikes a chord with the viewers. Modern law enforcement officers seem to be hindered by laws and regulations that appear to serve the interests of the criminals far more than protecting the citizens. The resentment that this creates is what drives the popularity of the vigilante; he doesn’t care about reading the criminals their rights, he just blows them away. The visceral appeal of this sort of movie is powerful and in many cases can make up for a lack of a strong story. Unfortunately this is the case here. The film is overly dependent on the acceptance with the audience for the concept of vigilantism. It all boils down to we want to see the criminals punished as much and as often as possible. There are no lawyers to find a loophole to set them free bust a pair of brothers out to make the world a better place one crook at a time. This is an independent film costing about $7 million to make. Considering the lack of resources they cast and crew did provide an honest try at making the best film possible under the circumstances. While the film falls short of living up to its potential it still makes for a very good movie night flick. In a trend that is becoming increasingly popular Fox is re-releasing this film for home theater. While there have been a few DVD editions they have now released the ultimate high definition version on Blu-ray.
This is the first time for Troy Duffy as a writer or director. The story is not the strongest of the crime thriller genre but it holds together well enough to give some rational for the action. Admittedly some of the elements used in the story are hackney such as the use of Irish Catholic guilt and propensity towards violence. It is a change from the typical vigilante flick in as much as this one sports a fraternal team instead of the usual lone gunman made popular by ‘Death Wish’. One required character, the lawman on the trail of the vigilante is present with an odd twist that few actors other than the brilliant Willem Dafoe could have pulled off. True to the well set formula of the genre the actions of the brothers are met with mixed reactions. The news media has made them into heroes for cleaning up the streets from heinous criminals; a task beyond the ability of the police. The public are divided between viewing them as saints or worse than the crooks they dispatch so well. The FBI and police just want them off the streets; partially for their own criminal acts although their actions have proven to be an embarrassment. There is a lot of violence in this movie; more than was absolutely necessary to make the point. The language is also over the top but I guess that is just how things are with modern films. One well placed touch in the story is at the very beginning where the motivation of the brothers is established. They are in mass and the priest is speaking about the murder of Kitty Genovese. She was killed while over forty of her neighbors ignored her peals for help. The priest mentions that will not only should to fear evil but also the indifference of good men. The young men take this as some sort of divine sign that sets them off on their mission.
As a director Duffy has a lot of potential but still has to find his own narrative voice. It appears that he was overly influenced by ultra violent directors like Quentin Tarantino. He also has a habit of using fades between scenes. I have not seen this many uses of this technique since any one of the ‘Star Wars’ movies. It’s okay to break up the action but is employed too frequently in this movie. Despite some of the technical flaws this has become a cult classic. It had a extremely limited theatrical release and gained its reputation with DVD sales. While technically not direct to video it might has well have been so. It shows that this means of distribution is becoming a valid means of distributing a movie. Duffy is a stylistic director and the movie is visually interesting. He also excels at the use of music in the production and one bright spot is he forgoes restricting himself to just a hard pounding score to sample a variety of musical motifs including opera. He does need to spend some time working on his pacing. When the action gets going it is exciting but the expository and aftermath scenes have the effect of dragging down the flow of the film.
Fraternal twins Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus) are fairly religious as well as being strapping young men always ready to get in some form of trouble. After hearing a sermon at church about the indifference of people they decide to become more proactive in helping their community. Instead of taking the better trod road they feel that a direct approach to criminals beyond the reach of the law would be best. Their first opportunity comes on St. Patrick’s Day when they are lifting a few cold ones at their local bar. Some Russian mobsters come in and announce that they are closing the place down. The brothers start a brawl and embarrass the mobsters; a situation that is not well received by the boss of the gang. The Russians kidnap Murphy but thanks to an ingenious use of a toilet as a free falling battering ramp Connor manages to rescue his brother. The Russian mobsters were under the investigative eye of the FBI and they send an openly gay agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) to get to the bottom of things. This makes the brothers bolder and they are determined to expand their scope to other criminals. It doesn’t take long before everyone in town is after them.
The Blu-ray version of the film is excellent. The high definition video is well presented with a far better than DVD color palette and contrast. The DTS HD audio is pulse pounding with a fully developed sound field. There are also the same extras as were originally presented in the unrated special edition DVD. This is a popcorn flick that is fun to watch.
Includes Both Theatrical And Unrated Version Of The