January 22, 1999
Dir. Troy Duffy
Prod. Robert Fried, Chris Brinker, Mark McGarry
Genre: American Crime Film
Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, David Della Rocco, Willem Dafoe, Billy Connolly
This film is a bit older than the others I’ve reviewed so far, but it’s such a great film and I have been really excited to talk about it. Written and directed by Troy Duffy, The Boondock Saints has become what many call a cult classic. Starring Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery as Irish, fraternal twin brothers, Murphy and Connor MacManus, this film explores the thin line between doing what is morally right and doing what you feel is in the best interest of everyone.
The Boondock Saints is a film that, at first, I didn’t think I’d be a big fan of. When I first read the description it sounded like a crime film with religious undertones. I could not have been more wrong. After helping their friend Doc (Gerard Parkes) out of a situation with the Russian Mafia, the brothers, along with their friend, Italian Mafia Package Boy, David Della Rocco (played by the actor of the same name), take on a mission from God to rid the streets of Boston of criminals. All the while they have to avoid being caught by Boston PD. Leading the charge is FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Dafoe) who must decide whether he really wants to catch the brothers or help them on their quest.
While a big part of this film is the killings of criminals, it is not the main focus. This is a very character-driven film and each character offers something unique to the story. Between Duffy’s amazing writing and some phenomenal acting, the characters in The Boondock Saints are unlike any others you’ll see. Despite the MacManus brothers killing people, it is impossible to see them as evil. Their mission begins when they try to help their friend and is then furthered when Connor is forced to take desperate measures to protect his brother. It is obvious from the start of the film that the relationship between the brothers is an important element and Reedus and Flanery’s brilliant acting shows this from start to finish.
Of course, the brothers are not the only characters and the comic relief presented by Rocco and Doc is something that is so unique to this film that you will love both of them. Their presence makes it so that the serious situations aren’t overpowering. In a film like this it is so easy to focus on the guns and blood, but both actors play their characters so well that this remains a character film and not a gun-slinger film. Finally, Dafoe’s portrayal FBI Agent Smecker is truly spectacular. Duffy and Dafoe were able to create a gay character without giving in to stereotypes and it is truly wonderful and entertaining to watch. You will be laughing, crying, cursing, and cheering along with all them.
As different as each character is, something they all bring to the table is unforgettable lines. From Doc’s bouts of shouting caused by the fact that he has Tourettes to Rocco’s “Is it dead?” to the brother’s prayer that is now famous among Boondocks fans, this film is one memorable quote after another. Duffy has written a film that is so unique and memorable that you’ll want to watch it over and over again just to hear those lines.
While the characters are magnificent, what really makes this film such a standout is the way it is all cut together. Jumping from the start of a situation to the aftermath and then showing what happened in between in a sort of flashback sequence sounds confusing. However, Troy Duffy does it in a way that it makes perfect sense and the viewing experience will be unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Nonetheless, despite the amazing cast, director, and just overall quality, this film was not predicted to be a success. It received many negative reviews and was sidelined due to the Columbine shooting that happened around that time. Since then however, it has gained a massive following and the entire cast returned to create The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day and a third film is currently in the works. This film is totally different from what you might expect it to be and I recommend it. It is not the typical action/crime film with lots of shooting and blood. The deaths are done in a way that does not take the focus off the brothers, but only furthers their development. A film consisting of memorable quotes, an incredibly talented cast, and written by a man with a unique vision of film, The Boondock Saints is a film you won’t regret seeing.
Have you seen The Boondock Saints? Do you have a film like it that you love?