Monday, July 5, 2010

The Boondock Saints

Directed by Troy Duffy.
1999. Rated R, 108 minutes.
Sean Patrick Flanery
Norman Reedus
Willem Dafoe
David Della Rocco
Billy Connolly
Gerard Parkes
David Ferry
Brian Mahoney
Bob Marley

After a skirmish with some of the local soldiers of the Russian mob, the McManus brothers, Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus) decide to become vigilantes. They start going after Boston’s bad guys in order to dole out their own brand of justice.

The dialogue is mostly sharp and often funny. Characters relate to one another in a manner that somehow feels natural despite the unnatural circumstances in which they find themselves. Director and writer Troy Duffy’s prose owes a lot to Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and even more to the canon of Quentin Tarantino. This is most noticeable when the characters have conversations that seem to be pointless but help establish personalities and more noticeably when they reference pop culture.

The action scenes are also a plus. They’re fun, bloody and don’t always go according to plan. Through the flashbacks they’re shown through we discover that our heroes are generally sloppy in their work. That helps endear them to us. They don’t seem to be indestructible beings mowing down hundreds of faceless villains. True, they defy the odds but they seem lucky to do so.

To me, the best part of the movie is Willem Dafoe. As Agent Smecker, the federal agent assigned to find out who’s killing all the crooks, Dafoe is marvelous. He’s certainly over the top, but he does it so well. From his opening scene where he’s dancing through the alley while concocting a theory through his near last scene in a dress, it’s a virtuoso performance. Some will say it’s too much, but to me it’s perfectly suited to the movie it’s in.

The problems become apparent the closer we get to the end. For instance, once we meet Il Duce it’s like the air gets let out of the balloon. At that point, TBS crosses the line from being ridiculous in a fun way to just being ridiculous. The contrived court-room scene is worst of all. It reeks of trying to be cool instead of actually being so.

In all, it’s a fun movie that does what it wants: entertain us with witty, occasionally quotable dialogue and stylized violence. However, it can’t quite overcome it’s shortcomings to really be great. It never outdoes the movies it emulates. A copy is never as sharp as the original.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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