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Blu-ray Review: The Boondock Saints

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If anyone tells you they saw The Boondock Saints in theaters when it came out in 1999, I wouldn’t trust them because it only played in five theaters across the country for one week. If anyone tells you they liked The Boondock Saints, I wouldn’t trust their taste in movies because this thing is gawd awful.

Yet another in the unfortunately long line of bad movies influenced by director/parasite Quentin Tarantino, Saints plays out like it was created by a coked-up movie junkie and was intended for an audience of stoners because the viewer would need to be high to be impressed by the ridiculously constructed scenes of frenetic, violent action and the utterly lame attempts at humor. Writer/director Troy Duffy’s “thinking of cool shit” mentality is sadly evidenced throughout. It’s rather ironic that the movie opens with a priest sermonizing about good people standing by and doing nothing to stop evil when that’s the sin of everyone involved with its creation.

The saints are Irish-American fraternal twins Connor and Murphy MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus), who live in crime-ridden Boston. After the MacManus brothers kill some Russian gangsters in self-defense, they become folk heroes, not only to the townspeople, but also to the authorities. The brothers turn themselves into the police and effeminate FBI agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), who was working the crime. After hearing their story, Smecker lets them go.

The brothers then receive a message from God who wants them to be His avenging angels, meting out justice and smiting evil. They are joined in this higher calling by low-level Italian mobster David Della Rocco (David Della Rocco). [That’s not a typo. The character was named after the actor who plays him. In an odd bit of unintentional meta, Rocco the character is a fuck-up, which is an apt description of Rocco the actor’s performance.]

The trio builds quite a body count of bad guys. Smecker is on their trail, although he struggles to admit he approves of their actions. The trio is gunning for Italian mob boss Papa Joe Yakavetta (Carlo Rota), who seeks the help of hitman Il Duce (Billy Connolly) for protection. Inevitably, the characters’ paths converge in an orgy of gunfire and violence.

As I watched the Director’s Cut of what I will remember as The Boondoggle Saints, I had trouble understanding how this glorified student film ever got made, let alone became an alleged “cult phenomenon” because there’s very little redeeming about it. The story was informed by rentals at Blockbuster Video; the humor was witless; the acting fluctuated between poor and over-the-top; and it reeked of clichés from the montages to the timeline. There was nothing that made me care about the characters, although “shooters” might be a better word because the project had more resemblance to a video game. You could teach a class on how not to make a movie from this.

I did enjoy one scene. Towards the end, Smecker unravels a crime scene and appears in the moment alongside the perpetrators as he describes what took place. Unfortunately, a movie is more than one scene and all the others were terrible. The only other redeeming factor is it can be used as a movie trivia game by naming the movies ideas have been stolen from.

Putting Saints on Blu-ray is like putting a great dress on an ugly woman. Still, the video, which is presented in 2.35:1, looks better than expected for a movie ten years old. The color palette mainly deals with blacks and earth tones. This choice by the production design helps the red stand out and its use increases in tandem with the increase in bloodshed. The audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and it puts you in the center of the gunfire as the weapons ring out through the surround system. While the music also engulfs the viewer as well, the dialogue doesn’t get lost.

The Special Features includes a commentary track by Duffy and another by Connolly, who although he narrates a few lines at the start doesn’t show up until over an hour in, so he can’t have been involved with the project that many days. The creative services team would have more to offer about its making. Duffy is unaware how bad the movie is. There are 92 seconds of outtakes, seven deleted scenes [although I could think of more], and the script can be accessed for those having trouble sleeping. Right from the first few pages it’s apparent Duffy didn’t know what he was doing as he fails to use commas in sentences when a person is being addressed.

If The Boondock Saints is the last movie on the shelf, your time would be better spent writing your own screenplay. You couldn’t do any worse.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • CHOSEN JUAN

    I love this movie but I knew there had to be someone out there who didn’t. I always like to read other people’s views on why they hate things that I really enjoyed. I’m not buying yours though. You don’t give any good reasons on why you hate it. You like the colors? WTF?? Quit trying to be “unique” and admit you love it.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    CJ, if you don’t think “ridiculously constructed scenes of frenetic, violent action…utterly lame attempts at humor…the acting fluctuated between poor and over-the-top; and it reeked of clichés from the montages to the timeline” are good reasons, then I am not sure what would be.

    btw, it’s not unique to hate this movie.