Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Boondock Saints is one of those movies that you probably never heard of, though it appears to have a big cult following, if the numerous websites dedicated to it is any indication. I myself saw the movie several times in the video store and walked right by it, intrigued at the cover, but not enough to pay for it. A friend of mine tipped me off to it and I decided to give it a go, much to my delight.
Boondock Saints is the story of two Irish brothers, Conor and Murphy McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus), Boston natives and pseudo-religious fanatics. I say pseudo-religious because while they are tattooed with holy marking and recite scriptures in Latin, they are not exactly angels. The brothers find their mission from God to rid the streets of Evil when, after a bar fight with members of the Russian mafia, they are forced to kill to defend themselves from retribution. Believing that their luck in dispatching the thugs was divine intervention, the fraternal twins take up their charge and, with the help of Rocco, a low level gangster who was also targeted for death by the mob, begin picking off neighborhood gangsters one by one.
With a combination of skill, righteous fury and luck, the twins and Rocco cut a swath of death through the streets, saying a prayer for the dead and leaving corpses with pennies over their eyes. On their trail, is FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) who has the uncanny ability to place himself in the moment of the crime and reenact the massacre perfectly. But as he tracks the ‘Saints,’ Smecker begins to lose faith in the system that demands that he capture and punish those that he feels is doing what he himself wants to do.
Eventually, the mob strikes back, arranging for the release of Il Duce (Billy Connolly—that’s right, I said the comedian, Billy Connolly), a deranged sociopath, to hunt down the Saints. Along the way, the Saints confront tragedy as well as success, and gain the respect of the media and the neighborhood who feel that they are doing what’s best for everyone.
Boondock Saints is that rare blend of action and comedy, with some heartfelt emotions sprinkled in. It’s not just a shoot-em-up independent film, but a richly layered story with a little bit of everything for everybody. I dare anyone to watch this movie and not love it—or at least admit that it was a very good film. It upset me to see that while the industry releases and promotes one bad movie after another this movie was almost lost in the sea of straight to video films. Here is a truly original script, in the vein of Pulp Fiction, with clever dialogue, endearing characters, and a mesmerizing soundtrack. And please, do not let Billy Connolly’s name scare you; he actually is the least humorous character in the whole movie, and manages to portray the character of Il Duce as eerily stoic and mysterious. Look for most of the humor to come from the character of Rocco, who delivers this hilarious line, “I thought it would bring closure to our relationship,” when asked by his girlfriend why he shot her cat.
I recommend this movie to everyone and ask that you keep a look out for Boondock Saints 2 (All Saints Day), scheduled to be released later this year (release date subject to change).