Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Yo check out my chest hair aka My Spider!

"And Shepherds we shall be

For thee, my Lord, for thee.

Power hath descended forth from Thy hand

Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.

So we shall flow a river forth to Thee

And teeming with souls shall it ever be.

In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti."

Ok let's get serious. In preparation for this weekend's horror-con event Monster-Mania, I wanted to write a review on one of my favorite films, The Boondock Saints. Some of the actors from the original are going to be signing at the event and pretty much have my money in their pocket already because I am hellbent on meeting them. Now onto the review, which is spoiler-free even though it is over ten years old:

Plot in a few sentences
In the city of Boston, MacManus Brothers Connor and Murphy (Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) kill two mobsters in self defense after getting into a bar fight with them the night before. An FBI agent Paul Smecker, who specializes in mob related homicides (Willem Dafoe), is brought in to work with local law enforcement to solve this crime. In the meantime, the MacManus brothers decide to use their strong pulse on religious divinity to rid their neighborhood of all mob activity above the law and on their own while Smecker and the cops are on their tail.

Meat and Potatoes

If you have not seen this film, please stop reading this review immediately and go track it down. This is considered to be a cult classic and hit on video, but the truth is that it is one of the most underrated films I have ever been directed to see. Its lack of marketing at the cinema was due to the unfortunate and coincidental news events of that year (more on that in the ETMC Extras below).

I remember when a friend back in 2004 gave this to me to watch. It sat on my shelf for close to 2 months before I attempted to give it back without watching it. The reasons were that I never heard about, just simply had no desire to see an action film that was (as he put it) kinda sorta like Pulp Fiction and was two hours long. Even with all those negatives stacked against it, my friend implored me to watch it, so I did...I could not thank him enough for his persistence. This was one flick that seems very cliche on the outer layer, but has a cool and original concept and underlying themes that made me an instant fan.

Besides the cool storyline and religious undertones, the acting in this film is incredible. Willem Dafoe is an amazing actor who I highly respect and his portrayal of Paul Smecker might be one of my favorite roles. Smecker is an agent who reconstructs the murders using classic music and his keen wit. More importantly, he is a non-traditional character that shatters the typical mold of law enforcement model cliches you are used to seeing. For example, you would never guess the direction his role winds up taking around the midway point and he is a homosexual who calls other homosexuals very derogatory terms. The latter really throws you a shock when it first happens.

Flannery and Reedus have great chemistry and look to having a blast (no pun intended) in their roles as the brothers of justice. At first, Flannery's hardcore Irish accent is hard to make out, but it sounds legitimate as hell and adds to his performance. David Della Rocco, playing mob low man Rocco, provides some great comic relief as the ever-so intense, foul mouthed companion to the brothers. His inside mob intelligence allows the brothers to plan their target eliminations accordingly. The local detectives (Brian Mahoney, David Ferry and Bob Marley - no not the "No Woman, No Cry" Marley, smart asses) are also great supporting characters that have excellent dialogue with Dafoe which help to sell their scenes together. Their added presence is a nice relief opposed to having their scenes depend on the veteran Dafoe to carry them alone. And Billy Connolly as II Duce is the ultimate in bad ass! Until I saw this film, I always remembered him as the guy who pulled mop up duty on the show Head of the Class when Howard Hesseman left shortly before cancellation. Now this is the role for which I will always remember him and it is one outside the norm of what he usually plays.

The dialogue is engaging and the swearing at a maximum (which doesn't bother me a bit). In fact, the use of the F-bomb and its several variations are spoken 246 times. That is double the the running time in minutes.

The direction is solid for first-timer Troy Duffy, especially in moments when scenes are shot out-of-sequence. It might seem very Tarantino-esque on paper, but Duffy puts an interesting spin on this technique and makes it his own. And let there be no denying Duffy's intention for the film in being subtly comedic and having ridiculously over-the-top situations in conjunction with the serious tone in usage of action and violence. It's a symphony of themes that mix well together to make this film what it is.

Never has an ending left me yearning for another two hours or praying for a sequel to be shot and released. This flick leaves you on the same type of energy wave it started you off on in the beginning and not many low budget flicks can successfully make that claim. The Boondock Saints is an ETMC favorite and I hope to hear some feedback good or bad regarding it.

ETMC Extras

- This film was given a one-week theatrical run in only five theaters due to the Columbine Massacre of '99, the same year as the film's release. It pretty much went straight-to-video where it gained its huge fan base.

- The documentary film Overnight (2003) is the story of writer-director Duffy's sale of the Boondock Saints script to Miramax and the "purported" negative attitude he gained and burnt bridges in the industry he created after the film's release. I haven't seen Overnight and have not met Duffy so I cannot comment, but I do need to see this film at some point.


iZombie said...


Amanda Sablan said...

This is going on my Blockbuster Queue. ;]

Morgan said...

Great movie! Makes me proud to be Irish!

Cheeseboy said...

Yes. I have it on hold now. Thanks for the recommendation.

TS Hendrik said...

I just had a conversation about the movie last night and in particular how disappointing the sequel was.

Chuck said...

I have this on video and like you have had it on my shelf for about three months unwatched. I am pulling it out tonight for viewing this weekend. One of our friends has a relative that has some part in this movie (probably a bit part) so I need to revisit that as well.

Thanks for the reminder!

Will Burke said...

I like Tarentino, so I'll have to look for this!

Powdered Toast Man said...

I recently just watched the sequel and it kicks but too. I don't think it got as good reviews as the first but I still enjoyed it.

I need to go back and watch the original again. Willem Dafoe is an awesome actor. Get some autographs for me at the convention.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Easily one of the greatest action films of all time, its been great watching it come up from an unknown underground film to the cult classic that it has become today. Great call here Geof!

Anthony J Langford said...

Oh man.. your not serious.. it was a turd pile! Sorry, but Duffy is carrying alot of barely repressed man lust.. Just be gay and be done with it!
It had a few okay moments, but it's really pretty was cliche, ridiculous in places and a stupid story.. Tarantino wouldnt wipe his ass with this script..

Overnight is much more interesting..showing what a spoilt ego maniac Duffy really is..and how the Hollywood system works..

I was embarassed watching this..

Post a Comment