Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Boondock Saints

by Pa Rock
Film Critic

It's hard to beat a good cult classic movie on a hot afternoon, or any other time for that matter. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Lost Boys, or A Fish Called Wanda will draw me to the small screen like the proverbial moth to the flame - time, and time, and time again.

Today, I finally had the opportunity to see The Boondock Saints, a film that opened in only five U.S. theatres when it was released in 1999 - and where it earned a whopping $30,471. The movie's release followed closely on the heels of the Columbine school massacre, and there was a strong public reaction against stories about bad boys with guns.

The Boondock Saints did a little better on international screens ($219,529), but it came no where near making back its six-million-dollar investment. Positive reaction to the movie began spreading by word-of-mouth, and Blockbuster took it to video where it went gangbusters, earning an estimated fifty million dollars to date.

Troy Duffy, a hard luck bartender/bouncer who wrote the script and directed the movie, let the video rights get away from him early in the process. He brought out a sequel last year and also has a comic book and graphic novel in the works that are based on the film's characters and plot lines, so he may yet wind up doing well financially from this project.

The Boondock Saints is a bloody paean to vigilantism. The focus is on a pair of young, male fraternal twins who do blue-collar work in the meat-packing industry in Boston. The McManus twins (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are good Catholic lads who also enjoy throwing back a few cold ones at a local Irish pub. It is at the Irish pub on St. Paddy's Day when they mix it up with some pushy Russian mobsters. The Russians pay them a visit at their shabby abode later that night, and the boys wind up killing the mobsters.

Enter a very bright FBI Special Agent played by Willem Dafoe who visits the crime scene and determines it was an act of self-defense by persons unknown. Dafoe's character is a hard-as-nails cop-type and also a somewhat flamboyant gay man who doesn't like to cuddle.

Upon hearing that they really are presumed innocent, the Brothers McManus turn themselves in and become instant celebrities with the police and local media. One thing leads to another, and the boys find that they have a talent for killing bad guys - and they enjoy it! As the gangster blood begins to flow freely through the alleys of Boston, Special Agent Smecker (Dafoe) engages in hot pursuit.

There is a nice cameo in this movie of porn star Ron Jeremy who plays a mob under-boss. In a bit of gratuitous justice, the legendarily-endowed Mr. Jeremy manages to get whacked while masturbating in an adult emporium.

The critics almost universally panned this film, but viewers loved it - to the tune of $50 million so far.

There is something about vigilantism that appeals to the baser instincts and gives the powerless, which includes most of us, the feeling that we, too, could become mighty and right the world's wrongs. It is a dangerous premise, one that can easily lead impressionable youth or the armed baboons like those native to Arizona into a life-altering tragedy. But it also fills a need that we all have, the craving to exert some control over our own existence in a world that seems to be racing beyond reason.

The McManus Brothers are good killers and good neighbors. Yes, they were raised poor on the mean streets of Boston, but their mother got them to church regularly and managed to cause them to become fluent in several languages. They are undoubtedly the most intellectual meat-packers in all of Boston. And they are good boys. They dutifully place coins on the eyes of their victims to pay the ferryman for the passage across the River Styx, and they often invoke their special family prayer over their sweating victims, lowlife scum who are fixing to meet their own Gods. The family prayer forms their commitment to do God's work. It follows:

"And shepherds we shall be,
for Thee, my Lord, for Thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
that our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In nomine Patris, et filii, et Spiritus Sancti."

Killing for Christ - the very essence of sainthood!


molly. said...

I love that movie! I used to own but a friend of mine "borrowed" it and never gave it back. I still haven't seen the next one. We've DVRed it though.. I just need to make the time.

molly. said...

own it*