The Boondock Saints is a ridiculously over-stylized and cliché ridden film that came to some notoriety when it was withdrawn from theaters after only a couple of days when the Columbine High shootings sent America into a panic. It went on to become a bit of a hit in foreign markets and on home video and has since grown a sizeable cult following. But is it a good movie?
Meh. It has its moments.
The film follows two Irish immigrant brothers, Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) McMannus, who live in a rancid apartment and work at a meat packing plant in Boston. In their spare time, they hang out at a pub run by an old guy with Tourett's Syndrome with their Italian pal, Rocco (David Della Rocco). When a bunch of Russian mobsters crash the party at the pub one night, telling the bartender he has to close down, a fight breaks out and the McMannus brothers wind up killing the Russians in a fight in the alleyway near the bar.
The cops do what they can to figure out who killed these guys and why, and soon an F.B.I. agent named Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is on the scene, listening to opera on his walkman while examining the crime scene and degrading Boston homicide cops by making them get him coffee. Smecker starts to put two and two together as the McMannus brothers find they have a knack for taking out criminals and decide to make a full time job of it. As more and more gangsters wind up dead, there's more and more pressure put on Smecker to bring the culprits in, but there's more to this than simple vigilante justice and Smecker knows that he might just have to bring in a secret weapon (in the rather unexpected form of Billy Connolly).
As entertaining a picture as The Boondock Saints is, and it is a good time at the movies, you've got to periodically cringe at the Tarantino-inspired dialogue and John Woo wannabe slow motion camerawork. First time writer/director Troy Duffy shows a load of promise here but very little originality. Thankfully, Flannery and Reedus make for a likeable pair of anti-heroes and Dafoe's completely over the top performance as their would-be foil is hard not to appreciate. The storyline is fairly thin and it seems a mere afterthought meant to piece together a series of creative, blood soaked gun battles but it gets the job done.
More problematic than the dialogue is the decision to use Toronto to stand in for Boston and anyone familiar with both cities will have no trouble telling what was shot where. On top of that, a needless subplot involving Smecker's homosexuality adds nothing to the story save for what we can only assume is meant to be a cheap laugh. The Russian mobsters are as oafish as you'd expect, probably even more so, and their accents ridiculously thick as are the McMannus brothers' thick Irish brogue. It's a film that seems to revel in stereotypes, and not always to positive effect. The novelty casting of Ron Jeremy as a hood actually works, however, as does Billy Connolly in a role you don't expect him to play.
In the end, if you think too much about this film you simply wind up pulling it apart as the logic gaps, goofy characters and a few technical goofs make it ripe for the picking. That said, if you don't take it too seriously (and there are obviously moments where you're not supposed to) the picture is a good bit of ridiculously violent fun.NOTE: Fox has included both the (slighlty - we're talking a few seconds here) longer and bloodier director's cut of the film and the original theatrical cut on this Truth & Justice Edition (puzzlingly titled as a tenth anniversary edition - wasn't it made in 1999?) Blu-ray reissue of the film, just as they did on the last one. And that's not the only similarity you'll notice between the two releases either. As a matter of fact... The Blu-ray:
...The Boondock Saints looks pretty good in the 1080p AVC encoded 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this disc, which appears to be identical to the transfer on the previous Blu-ray release from 2009. While it's not going to be a disc you pull out to show off your HDTV, it's a fine effort none the less. Detail isn't as strong as the latest Hollywood blockbuster release and there's a bit of noise in some scenes but aside from that the movie looks pretty good here. Blacks are nice and strong and skin tones look pretty natural though at times they tend to run a little bit hot, as do reds. The image doesn't quite have the depth that you might want out of a Blu-ray transfer but it's a noticeable step up from the standard definition DVD.Sound:
Also impressive is the English language 48 kHz/24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this disc, though again, you'll be hard pressed to notice any difference whatsoever between the audio here and on the last Blu-ray issue. There's some very noticeable surround activity present during the shoot outs and you'll appreciate your subwoofer during these action sequences. The quieter moments in the film benefit from clear dialogue and properly balanced levels and the audio sounds consistently clear throughout the duration of the film. Subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.Extras:
The extras on this Blu-ray release are bound to look a little familiar to the movie's sizeable fanbase, as they've been seen and heard before. The commentary track with writer/director Troy Duffy is an interesting one as this is one of those cases where the making of the film is just as interesting, if not more so, than the film itself. He speaks quite openly about the trials and tribulations of getting this project put together, how he was employed as a bartender before moving into movie making, and the various roles that different Hollywood types played in getting this picture made. He also discusses the making of the film, what it was like working with Reedus and Flannery as well as Connolly and how he feels about the movie in hindsight. It's a very solid and informative track. Less interesting but still worth skimming through is the commentary with Billy Connolly, who really only has a small supporting role in the film. He's got a good sense of humor and is an entertaining enough guy in his own right, but he just can't bring as much to the table as Duffy can, though some of his input is fairly interesting as it gives us an actor's point of view on the movie.
Also included are the same outtakes and seven deleted scenes that were included on the DVD and prior Blu-ray release and they're presented here in standard definition. Some of this material isn't in the best of shape and isn't even close to finished but it's cool to see it here. The theatrical trailer is also included. Animated menus and chapter selection are included on the disc, and the movie features D-Box Motion Coding, so that those of you out there with those weird vibrating chairs that plug into your Blu-ray player can get your groove on. The film's script was included on the last release but has not been carried over to this disc.
But wait - is there anything new on this disc at all, in terms of extras? There is, and it's not a bad addition to the disc. The Boondock Saints - The Film and the Phenomenon is a featurette that clocks in at just under a half an hour and which is basically a roundtable chat with Troy Duffy, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and David Della Rocco who talk about making the picture, the difficulties they ran into as far as distribution was concerned, and how the film eventually found a good audience on home video. The only extra on the disc presented in high definition, this is definitely worth watching if you enjoyed the movie. A second disc included in the packaging contains a standard definition digital copy of the movie.Final Thoughts:
A different sort of crime movie, The Boondock Saints gets a decent transfer, impressive audio and a nice array of extras but differs only very slightly from the previous 2009 Blu-ray issue with one change in the supplemental department. If you don't already own the film and want to, this is a fine way to do it, but is it worth the double dip? Nope. Based on its own merits, however, this release is pretty good and the film delivers enough entertainment value to earn a recommendation for action movie fans.