The Boondock Saints (1999)


Watching “The Boondock Saints” is something of an experience, and one that I’m actively working on forgetting as soon as humanly possible. Director Troy Duffy’s action trashapalooza is much too mind-numblingly moronic to be taken as an earnest effort for indie action cinema, and much too stern to be considered camp garbage. You can clearly sense director and writer Troy Duffy working actively to portray every single character in this film as something to be taken with a straight face and a shiver, but in the end none of it works out for the better.

Known as something of a cult classic today for being absolute swill, Troy Duffy’s “The Boondock Saints” has nothing worth remembering other than Willem Dafoe’s absolutely embarrassing performance, and the inherent homoerotic tone that’s sprinkled throughout much of the narrative. Whether it’s played for kicks, played for romance, played for melodrama, or just a laugh, “The Boondock Saints” has an air of homoerotica that’s evident through its two main characters who are brothers, but bear such a strong connection, they often look like a couple. Perhaps Duffy attempted to convey the bond of the Irish through such a picture, but more times than not, they had something of a romance that went generally unspoken.

“The Boondock Saints” is much too idiotic to enjoyed because it’s often so muddled and disjointed, you can never seem to keep up with it. The story is all over the place and takes a good while to actually get to the point involving the MacManus brothers who suddenly get visions from god insisting they’re on something of a mission to eliminate the scourge of the underworld. Basically Duffy takes the screenplay for “The Blues Brothers” and works it to fit his action fixation while enlisting about every goofy one-liners and plot device you can actually imagine (Duffy obviously made one character a Tourette’s sufferer to squeeze in extra foul language).

I haven’t done my research on the production of this actioner, but is Duffy really expecting us to take any of this seriously? Is Dafoe’s character something of a cartoon or is he supposed to be seen as an understated genius? Did Duffy really think his introduction involving opera music would actually be something of a brilliant sequence? “The Boondock Saints” is ultimately an infantile and brutally sophomoric little production, the like of which could only be spewed by a man-child with a severe fetishistic tendency toward gruesome violence and Duffy takes every single chance in the film to express such a liking with scenes that are absolutely disgusting or over the top for the sake of being disgusting or over the top.

The man doesn’t really aim to make art, but instead just wants to throw as much splatter at us as possible not particularly displaying a talent for storytelling or dialogue or even action set pieces. In the end, “The Boondock Saints” is an embarrassing waste of time, and nothing even resembling the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. I’m all for action trash, but only when there’s an inch of creativity or imagination behind it. Amateurishly written and directed, poor editing, terrible acting, and a stand out performance from Willem Dafoe who actively seeks to destroy all former ideas of him being something of a respectable actor once, “The Boondock Saints” is complete absolutely horrid trash. And not the good kind.