The Boondock Saints

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Irish-American brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus attend a Catholic Mass, where the priest mentions the fate of Kitty Genovese. Later, while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends, the two get into a bar brawl with three Russian mobsters who want to close the pub and take over the land it is built on. The two brothers try to reason with the mobsters, but the latter respond with violence. The next morning, two of the Russians seek revenge on Connor and Murphy, who kill the mobsters in an act of self-defense.

FBI Agent Paul Smecker is assigned to the case, and finds that the Police and local news reporters see them as heroes. The MacManus brothers turn themselves in at a police station, where Smecker interviews them. After they retell their incident to Smecker, he allows them to spend the night in a holding cell to avoid attention from the media. That night, they receive what appears to be a “calling” from God telling them to hunt down wicked men so that the innocent will flourish.

Connor and Murphy resolve to rid Boston of evil men. Connor learns of a meeting of Russian syndicate bosses at a hotel from a pager taken from one of the dead Russian mobsters. Having equipped themselves with weaponry from a local underground gun dealer, the brothers quickly kill all nine Russian mobsters, while Rocco, a friend of the brothers and mob errand boy for local mafia boss Giuseppe “Papa Joe” Yakavetta, is sent in as backup. During the investigation, Smecker believes that the killings of the Russian mobsters are the result of the beginning of a mob war.

The next day, Rocco learns that he was betrayed by Papa Joe after attempting to have Rocco killed by the Russian mobsters by sending him in with only a six-shot revolver. That night, the MacManus brothers and Rocco hunt down an underboss of the Yakavetta crime family, Vincenzo Lapazzi, and kill him. Concerned he may be a target, Papa Joe contacts a hitman, Il Duce (The Duke), to deal with them. After killing a criminal that Rocco had a personal hatred for, the three men are ambushed by Il Duce. Although they manage to chase Il Duce away, the three men suffer serious wounds, the most serious being the loss of Rocco’s finger. The three return to a house where after a brief, heated argument, they cauterize each other’s wounds. While watching Smecker give a press conference, Rocco insists that he is a liability and should be taken care of, but the brothers insist no action be taken against him.

Hours later as the police conduct an investigation at the crime scene, the investigation seems futile since the brothers covered their tracks by spraying any blood left behind with ammonia. However, Smecker happens upon the part of the finger lost by Rocco and decides to do an independent investigation to see who was behind the gun battle. Smecker is able to track the evidence down to Rocco and his two allies. This leaves Smecker in a difficult scenario, and struggles with the choice of whether to prosecute the three men, or join them in their cause, as Smecker had become sympathetic towards the brothers’ actions. After getting drunk at a gay bar and subsequently getting advice from a reluctant priest (being held at gunpoint by Rocco, who in turn is held by Conner for threatening the priest), Smecker decides to help the trio.

Later, the brothers and Rocco inform Smecker that they plan to infiltrate the Yakavetta headquarters to finish off the family, but Smecker learns they are walking into a trap. The brothers are captured, and Rocco is shot and killed by Papa Joe. As Papa Joe leaves his house, Smecker arrives in drag claiming to have been sent by another soldier. After fixing his costume, he leaves the bathroom and shoots the man who objected to “her” presence. Smecker finds the last man with his throat cut and is knocked out shortly after by Il Duce, who does not kill Smecker because he objects to harming women and children. The brothers manage to escape and kill the soldier sent down. As the brothers say their family prayer over Rocco, Il Duce enters the room and is prepared to open fire. However, it is revealed that Il Duce is the brothers’ father. He finishes the prayer and decides to join his two sons in their mission.

Three months later, Papa Joe is sent to trial for a third time. However, the reporters on-scene anticipate his acquittal. The brothers and Il Duce, aided by Agent Smecker and the three detectives, infiltrate the trial after sliding their weapons over the metal detector, unmasked, and make a speech stating that they intend to eradicate evil wherever they find it before the three men recite their family prayer and kill Papa Joe. The media dubs the three as “the Saints”, and the movie ends with various candid interviews with the public, reflecting on the question “Are the Saints ultimately good…or evil?”

REVIEW:

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, dear readers! In honor of this fine holiday, have a pint of your choice beverage, add some green food coloring, and let’s pick a film that is somewhat befitting of the day. I hear The Boondock Saints has some Irish connotation to it, so let’s see how this one pans out, shall we?

What is this about?

Sensing a God-given mission to cleanse the earth of all evil, twin brothers Conner (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) set out to rid Boston of crime. But instead of joining the police force, these Irish Americans decide to kick criminal butt their own way. Willem Dafoe co-stars in writer-director Troy Duffy’s crime thriller as the openly gay FBI special agent who’s assigned to investigate the siblings’ activities.

What did I like?

Killer Instinct. I’ve always been a fan of the trope in which assassins/killers are stoic, cold, and early unemotional. Perhaps that is why I like playing Assassins Creed so much. Each of the assassins, regardless of their personalities, is a cold-blooded killer, but with reason. The Saints, as they are lovingly called, are killers, yes, but they kill for the “right” reasons. Think of them in the same vein as any other vigilante, such as the Lone Ranger, Batman, the Punisher, etc.

Controversy. That brings me to this topic. Is what they’re doing good or evil. As discussed at the film’s end, it is up to you to decide what you ultimately think of their actions. For me, they are doing good, but what happens when every  Tom, Dick, and Henry gets a gun and decides to kill who they think is doing wrong? We basically get what is going with that “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and could possibly lead to something similar to The Purge. Not to get into some deep discussion, I like that this film ends with that conversation starter.

Over-the-top. Willem Dafoe is an interesting actor. As anyone that just sees the guy can attest, he has quite the, shall we say interesting, look. At the same time, though, he has the talent to make you forget he looks like The Elephant Man. This isn’t his best performance, but to my memory, it is his most entertaining. He’s over the top and an asshole, perfect characteristics for a cop in this kind of film.

What didn’t I like?

Billy. I was talking to someone about this film the other week and somehow Billy Connolly’s role in Brave came up. What that had to do with this picture, I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you, though, is that Connolly has his character somewhat built up, but the payoff is not worth it. Sure, he has that epic shootout, but that was it. The stuff at the end of the film doesn’t do him justice.

Mafia. Guess what? The Russian Mafia is the antagonistic organization of the film. What is so wrong about that? Well, there is a long stretch of the film, where it seems as they have all been forgotten. They appear in the beginning, then show back up for the last 20 minutes or so. Where are they in between? Your guess is as good as mine!

Racial. I am not a fan of racial slurs, but there are times when they fit the time period and/or culture, and I can look the other way. There is a scene with the Mafia boss and his stooges in which he is telling a joke. When it comes time to bring up African-Americans, they both make sure to “correct” him and say that he needs to use the “n” word (although they actually say it). I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this scene was both uncomfortable and unnecessary when it comes to moving the film forward, other than introducing us to the Mafia boss and, strangely enough, Ron Jeremy’s character.

People rave about how much they love The Boondock Saints, especially now that Norman Reedus is one of the most popular characters on The Walking Dead. For me, I won’t go that far. I enjoyed the film well enough, but did I love it? Eh, it was ok, but it felt like a rip off of Reservoir Dogs in places and had a watered down Tarantino feel to it. That being said, I can recommend this to a certain sector of the movie watching public. If you fall into that sector, then you’ll be certain to enjoy, otherwise, it is a hit or miss.

3 out of 5 stars

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