THE BOONDOCK SAINTS
A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is a movie with some great characters and one big plot problem.
The film’s premise is interesting and brings a new take on an old movie theme: vigilantism. Charles Bronson of the DEATH WISH series rules this roost, but all of these are seriously dated now. DEFIANCE (1980), starring Jan-Michael Vincent, was another great flick that focused on a citizen taking the proverbial bite out of crime in an otherwise corrupt neighborhood. So I was pleased to see something a bit fresher appear on celluloid with this oft-thought-of overused message.
In The Boondock Saints we find twin brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus taking on the vigilante mantle by any bloody means necessary. And I do mean bloody. They also view themselves as instruments of God (as seen in the opening sequence in which they are in church listening to the funerary services for an innocent victim). Once on the streets, they tuck their crosses beneath their shirts and pull out their chosen weapons ...usually ones infused with gunpowder. They also say a special prayer before shooting their final bad-guy of the day, a prayer their father taught them. Oh. And their Irish, in case you didn’t catch their last names. So we have to have the typical Irish pub in the area. And this is where much of the movie’s success comes from. The absolutely amazing characters are what drives it.
The pub owner is an old Irish coot who is being forced to sell his bar by the local Russian mob. But when the vigilante brothers show up and learn of it, they quickly make sure one of their favorite hangouts isn’t manhandled by any outsiders. The Irish pub owner is thankful to the brothers, and it’s amazingly funny how he thanks them because the old guy has Tourettes Syndrome (a tic disorder that often results in uncontrollable cursing outbursts).
The Irish brothers also have a close friend named "Funny Man" Rocco (played by coked-out looking David Della Rocco) who has mob issues of his own. His "boss" is trying to rub him out and when Funny Man learns of it, he takes matters into his own hands as well as becoming a third party to the MacManus brothers’ cause.
Hot on their tails is flamboyantly gay FBI agent Paul Smecker, played by Willem Dafoe. It is Dafoe’s character that really elevates The Boondock Saints to a higher level. His witty comments and astonishing detective abilities mixed with his social/sexual preferences are pulled off effortlessly. Watching him go over a crime scene while listening to opera is something to be marveled at.
The downside is that this is a pretty bloody flick, spilling as much crimson as any slasher film. But the biggest issue some may have is that there’s no background for the MacManus brothers. The audience never learns what trigger set them onto this path, so the viewers are just supposed to take what they’re doing at face value. That’s a pretty big pill to swallow. Set-up is important in the movies. But here’s the thing. The Boondock Saints has such great characters, most watchers probably won’t even notice this glitch.