- Rated R
- Buy the Blu-ray
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
irector Troy Duffy was supposed to be the next Quentin Tarantino. He was even being groomed by former Miramax head Harvey Weinstein himself. But after spending nearly ten years trying to launch his career, the wannabe auteur had compiled only two credits to his name – the cult classic, “The Boondock Saints,” and “Overnight,” the tell-all documentary about Duffy’s meteoric rise and fall. And while the latter film may have exposed the director as the greedy scumbag that he was (the reason many have cited as to why he never really made it in the business), “The Boondock Saints” shows Duffy’s true talent as a filmmaker. The film isn’t even that good, but despite the fact that it's plagued by numerous rookie mistakes, its charm continues to attract new fans every year.
Set in the midst of a turf war between the Italian Mafia and the Russian Crime Syndicate, the film stars Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus as Connor and Murphy McManus, a pair of Irish-born brothers who believe that they're on a mission from God to clean up the streets of Boston. After killing a couple of gangsters while defending themselves in a bar fight, the Brothers McManus decide to take the law into their own hands by going after the city's biggest and baddest criminals. Hot on their trail is Detective Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) – an eccentric FBI agent who's unsure whether he should be arresting the brothers or assisting them with their just cause – and a mercenary (Billy Connolly) who’s been hired by the Italian mob to take them out.
As Connor and Murphy become more famous, failed Italian mobster Rocco (David Della Rocco) joins the cause as a new recruit, helping to locate criminals worthy of the brothers’ unique brand of punishment. Unfortunately, the movie only suffers as a result. Rocco is an obnoxious and unsavory character who, much like Edward Norton's Worm from “Rounders,” serves only as a means of backing the protagonists into corners that they normally wouldn’t have found themselves in. It's a relatively pointless subplot that feels more like manufactured conflict than something that actually progresses the story.
But while it's not perfect by any means, "The Boondock Saints" is definitely worth seeing for Willem Dafoe’s wonderful performance as Smecker, the cross-dressing detective who comically berates the local cops when he’s not busy dancing around the crime scene. Though the action sequences are actually quite violent, they’re staged like gracefully choreographed flashbacks that show how Smecker pieces together what happened. This is arguably the only distinctive feature that separates the film from the many other movies that Duffy blatantly steals from along the way, but it’s also the best part, which leads me to believe that despite his bloated ego, Duffy has some real talent.
“The Boondock Saints” also has its share of gratuitous violence (including a scene where a cat is blown to bits by a misfired gunshot), but it’s all in good fun, and if you take it any more seriously than that, then you’re only supporting all of those arrogant critics who’ve rallied against the film since its release. This is just fiction, people, and if you can’t sit back and enjoy an entertaining popcorn flick like “The Boondock Saints,” then you'll probably never understand the difference between the movies and real life.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The Blu-ray edition of “The Boondock Saints” finally gives fans what they’ve always wanted: an unrated cut of the film. It’s actually not that much different from the original version, but there’s some added graphic violence (and language) for your pleasure. Accompanying the single-disc release are two audio commentary tracks (both only available on the theatrical cut), and though the one with writer/director Troy Duffy is very informative, the track featuring co-star Billy Connolly is more entertaining. Also included are seven deleted scenes, a short outtakes reel, and a copy of the shooting script.