Tuesday 14 June 2022

Movie Review: The Boondock Saints (1999)

A humorous crime-and-religion drama, The Boondock Saints achieves a glib attitude at the expense of plotting and meaningful characters.

In south Boston, Irish-American brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) audaciously eliminate two Russian Mafia goons attempting to move in on Irish turf. The FBI's Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) starts to investigate.

Fueled by religious fervor and enjoying newfound notoriety as avenging saints, Connor and Murphy next massacre a clutch of Russian criminals meeting in a hotel room. They are then joined by their rather dim friend David Della Rocco (the actor playing a character with the same name) and achieve folk hero status as they seek further targets in the Boston underworld. Smecker is always one step behind but gaining in appreciation, while the baddies prepare to strike back.

Filled with cartoonish levels of violence and a Tarantinoesque vibe, The Boondock Saints moves from one vivid set-piece to another with mechanical efficiency, writer and director Troy Duffy leaning on Boston's in-built cultural legacies to fill-in the blanks. While the violence is well-staged and reasonably restrained, the narrative progression is choppy, and the characters doing all the shooting remain stuck in an uninteresting and interchangeable void.

The villains are particularly short-changed. They receive a name and title and are then summarily gunned down, reducing the carnage to the level of target practice at inanimate objects. Duffy has kernels of interesting ideas about the MacManus brothers, including language proficiencies and an appreciation of revenge-tinted Biblical texts, but they are far from rounded characters. Comedian Della Rocco ends up upstaging everyone, to the detriment of the movie.

Willem Dafoe makes the most out of the Smecker role, and his animated presence adds notable quality. But the script falls into a repetitive trap of first skipping the shoot-outs then rewinding as Smecker connects the dots with artistic panache. It's a neat trick to play once; Duffy deploys the same technique three times.

Underpinning the action is a religious undercurrent packed full of faux profundity expounding upon God's wrath and the imperative to terminate vermin. Always cheeky, The Boondock Saints is also never more than wafer thin.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.