Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie review: The Boondock Saints

Written and directed by Troy Duffy, 1999's The Boondock Saints is a variation of the gangster movie, where the antiheroes at the center wreak havoc around themselves.  Connor and Murphy McManus, Irish-Catholic brothers (possibly fraternal twins) from South Boston, are tough customers.  When they interrupt Mass to pray by themselves up at the altar, nobody says anything - these boys are not to be messed with.  But they're good boys, loyal, and when some Russian thugs decide to close down their favorite pub, they stand up for their friends and kill the Russians.  The McManuses turn themselves in but the Boston cops treat them like heroes rather than arresting them, and the boys decide it's a message from God: they should clean their city up.

Aided by a doofus Italian mafia errand boy who knows all the players, Connor and Murphy start a killing spree that wipes out a number of high-level Russian mobsters and then start in on the Boston mafioso, developing their own rituals and saying prayers over their kills.  An FBI agent is sent after them because of the mob angle but he's always one step behind, plus he actually approves of what they're doing.

The Boondock Saints is a much-loved cult-level film, full of violence, cuss words and loving homages to Boston.  The McManuses are played by Sean Patrick Flanery and my current crush, Norman Reedus ("Darryl" on The Walking Dead), Willem Dafoe is the flamboyant FBI Agent Smecker and Billy Connolly is an implacable murderer sent after the boys by the Italian don.  The accents are sketchy - except for Detective Greenley, who is played by Maine comic Bob Marley (I totally didn't recognize him) - but Boston landmarks are everywhere, from the Pru to Copley Square to the "salt and pepper bridge".

I had a good time watching the entertaining TBS although I'm not going to rave about it as do many fans.  It's quite violent and then funny in spots, but not nearly as violent, funny or clever as similar films from Tarantino or Ritchie.  The plot is simple and the characters largely undeveloped, although the two leads are pretty dang cute.  I'm glad I watched it, having heard so much about it, and it was nice to revisit Boston, but I don't think I'm going to run  out and watch the sequel right away (which by all accounts is far inferior and incoherent compared to this first one).


  1. We caught Bob Marley in concert at the Improv in Tempe a few years ago. I'd heard him guest on the radio station I listened to and knew from his accent he was a Mainer. I'd never heard of him but he was funny so we decided to go. We laughed so hard our sides literally hurt for days. Mom got us one of his CDs for this past Christmas.

  2. I think he's wicked funny. And if you can ever see him in Maine it's just awesome because he makes all these local references that only someone who lived there would get. I had no idea he did any movie acting and only happened to see his name in the credits. Then I went back and watched a couple of his scenes again.