What do you get when you give a rude, crass, idiodic, alcoholic Irish asshole from Boston a pen, paper and a camera? The answer, of course, is Boondock Saints. And honestly, that sounds like a compliment to this film for how I feel about it and writer-director Troy Duffy. Ohhhhhh where to begin?
Let’s commence with the plot. The film is about two hard-drinking, hard-cussing, hard-fighting Irish brothers (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery [who I assume was only cast because his name is Irish]) who claim that God has talked to them and told them to murder those who do wrong. These types include Russian gangsters, other eastern-European gangsters and pretty much every type thats ever been a Bond Villian. Now, does something sound wrong with the fact that they are “supposed” to kill the "bad"people when they themselves are murders? Would God give these men the power to be judge, jury and exocutioner? Would these people ever feel remorse for these actions? Pshhh no, that’d make too much sense for this film. These characters never grapple with the horrible actions they commit. The only difference between them and their enemies is that “God told them to do it”. If your character’s rationale is the same that George W Bush used to go to war, chances are your characters are terribly written. Do they take this mission from God seriously? No, they gleeful delight in the murders that they got the job to do. In fact, they even get their friend David Della Rocco (David Della Rocco) to help out. They go out and kill gangsters, patrons at a strip club and other such “scum”. Following hot on the trail of these “saints” is, a gay, anti-gay (yes, you read that correctly) detective named Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe). If the lines of dialouge weren’t bad enough, Willem Dafoe takes them to a whole worse level that I didn’t know was possible. Dafoe is the only one who stands out from the other cookie-cutter actors, including the two main leads. But don’t think this is a compliment because he plays his role absolutely cartoonishly and pokes out like a giant pimple on an already acne-ridden face.
From a technical standpoint, there is actually a little to praise. The editing makes the rest of this trite project actually watchable and there are a few memorable shots. However, Troy Duffy squanders this with extreme action movie banalities and plain idiocy. Alot of the behind the scenes work is above average but this just gives contrast that sheds light on just how terrible everything else is. While we are in the praise department, Billy Connolly is actually deciently above-average in his portrayal of Il Duce, a hitman who goes on to join forces with the “Saints”. (But it should be noted that he has the rule “No women, no children”. Does this sound familiar? If you’ve seen Leon: The Professional, it’s VERY familiar.)
But back with the larger issues of what’s wrong with this god-awful film. Troy Duffy obviously has a large man-crush on Quentin Tarantino (which he would never admit because of his extreme homophobia) and this influences his work in a large degree. The entire style of this movie is modeled after Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. There is “homage” payed to (AKA complete rip-offs of) Pulp Fiction’s “Marvin” scene, often-cussing dialouge, occasional racism, religious intervention in a gangster movie, and even the chanting of a religious saying before an execution. In Pulp Fiction, there is Ezekiel 25:17, in Boondock Saints, there is a family prayer. This movie is more interested in staging “cool”-looking excutions rather than exploring themes. I’d say this movie is all style and no substance, but this style isn’t even his own.
The moral implications of Boondock Saints extend farther than one would originally think. Without in any way justifying his character’s actions, Duffy is encouraging vigilante justice and the fact that people “should” shoot those who do wrong. If that were true, I would have already shot Troy Duffy.
I believe that this movie was a testament to my patience and love of film because I sat through all 108 minutes of this trash and maybe enjoyed a single minute. Damn, this movie couldn’t even hold a mood or atmosphere. If it wasn’t highly recommended by a close friend and my brother, I would have stopped 20 minutes in (and I thought it was bad THEN, but it went on to achieve a new eschelon of terrible-ness). In my previous review, I refered to Seven Samurai as an example to why I watch and love movies; this is the polar opposite. I hated this movie and no amount of words can correctly measure my disgust associated with this film. The fact that this a cult hit gives me pain in my gut and the fact that this isn’t condemned as a movie hurts me. If you don’t believe anything I’ve said about Troy Duffy, watch the documentary Overnight, which displays Duffy’s rags-to-riches-to-rags story and the kind of person he is: A drunk who is mysoginistic, bigoted and just an all around asshole. As for the documentary itself, it is definitely worth seeing and I’d give it a seven out of ten. But for Boondock Saints, I give it a one and a half out of ten and I feel I’m being generous. For the love of all that is holy and precious, skip this movie.
Imdb.com rating: 7.9/10 (thanks to its cult following)
Rottentomatoes.com rating: 16% and an average rating of 4/10
My Rating: 1.5/10-abysmally bad