The Boondock Saints (1999)

Boondock04Gerry Parkes, Doc from Fraggle Rock, passed away this past week.  I’ve got a huge soft spot for that character and that show.  Parkes’ death was the catalyst that finally got me to sit down and watch a movie that’s been on and off my radar for, apparently, about 15 years.

The Boondock Saints follows the story of two very Irish Catholic brothers, Young Indiana Powder and Daryl Dixon, who decide after narrowly escaping some Russian mobsters–and a divine epiphany–that they should start killing really bad guys.  Willem Dafoe plays an FBI agent who specializes in Organized Crime.  Dafoe becomes more and more frustrated at his inability to catch the assassins who seem to simultaneously be ridiculously lucky bungling oafs, and criminal mastermind vigilantes.

The movie walks a line between a mediocre action film on a tight budget that tries to be over-the-top, and a surprisingly good dark comedy.  I think it works much better when viewed as the latter than the former.

The humour on display here is reminiscent of some of Tarantino’s earlier work.  Like Pulp Fiction or Resevoir Dogs, you’ll likely find yourself and the characters laughing off the incredibly violent and ludicrous situations that the brothers find themselves in.  Parkes’ character, an altogether different Doc, adds some extra laughs early on in his small supporting role, especially for fans of Fraggle Rock.  Just seeing him as a pub owner, cursing up a storm, is an easy gag that works for one as nostalgic and simple minded as myself.

Dance your cares away, and get the fuck outta here.

Dance your cares away, and get the fuck outta here.

Powder and Daryl deliver performances that are okay, but their forced Irish accents leave them unintelligible most of the time.  Dafoe is the standout performance, as he recounts to us the brothers’ dirty work from the aftermath of each crime scene, becoming more and more frustrated at being unable to either capture the brothers, or put together exactly what has been going on.  By the film’s climax he’s hamming it up to ridiculous levels and by that point, he’s practically carrying the movie.

Even when he's *not* the Christ figure in the film, Dafoe is contractually obligated to Christ-pose it up in all his movies.

Even when he’s not the Christ figure in the film, Dafoe is contractually obligated to Christ-pose it up in all his movies.

It’s that comedy that lets the film work.  Pretty much every character is busting the balls of the other characters at one point or another, and assuming you can understand the fake Irish stumbling out of their mouths, the jokes are pretty funny.

The action itself is pretty standard stuff, by today’s standards anyway.  Slow motion gun shots, heroes that always hit, villains that always miss, that kind of stuff.  For the most part it works. I’d imagine there would be many people that would find it lacking.  I particularly enjoyed one action sequence that featured Dafoe almost as a ghost, miming the scene to the Boston PD, as we’re shown exactly what happened.  Unfortunately, that’s probably the high point of the movie, and there’s still 20 minutes left after that.

In those 15-20 minutes, the story unfolds in a pretty predictable way, without adding much tension or any real action to speak of.

My understanding is there is a theatrical release and a Director’s Cut.  I watched whatever one they have on Netflix.  If I watched the director’s cut, I’d be very surprised.  The film I watched looked like it could have greatly benefited from a director’s cut.  A little more exposition in the beginning to make it clear from the get go that these boys aren’t professional assassins right away would have helped.
Apparently, this is being them being baptized into life as Saintly Vigilantes.  Or the beginning of a softcore porn.

Apparently, this is being them being baptized into life as Saintly Vigilantes, and not the beginning of the soft-core porn parody, “The Booncock Saints” .

A little explanation into exactly what the fuck Dafoe’s character is thinking near the end of the film might have helped as well.  Tightening up those last 30 minutes would have been great, too.

All in all, the movie was well worth watching, and I’ll probably watch the sequel… though it might take me another 10 years to get around to it.


2 comments on “The Boondock Saints (1999)

    • Thanks. I really wish I had caught this one in University. Cult classics are so much better in that half-in-the-bag, cramped, sweaty, roomful-of-people to poke fun at the bad, while just taking in the good.

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