Movie Review: THE BOONDOCK SAINTS (1999) – Vigilantism Before It Became A Thing

Published by Shah Shahid on

Tuesdays from here on forth will be known as “Flashback Tuesdays” on Blank Page Beatdown! Yea, I realize it’s not catchy… sue me. As usual, Fridays will be reserved for more recent reviews of things that are currently out, or at least within the same year. On Tuesdays however, I will showcase (I use that word lightly) my previous writings from a time when I was an idealistic youth. And drank a lot. Or stuff that’s not as recent.

Anyways… here’s one of my more naive writing pieces… from like 6+ years ago. You’ll notice how dated it is.

Rating: 5 Out Of 5

Veritas and Aequitas. Truth and Justice. Something we all should live by. Let me pose a hypothetical scenario for all out there. Imagine walking down the street in the early morning and witnessing a man getting stabbed by 3 or 4 guys. Now the first instinct in most of us would be to get the hell out of there and go get help. Some of us might try to attract attention while we dial 911 from our cell phones. These are all normal reactions expected from any one of us, and they don’t make us any less good. Because in our own way, some of us would try to get help. Some of us may leave in fear. It’s perfectly natural for us to react in any one of these manners in a situation such as that. But can any one of us truly say that they would come between those evil men and the innocent they are trying to murder, by risking our own life in the process, in order to attempt to save the life of a stranger? I know I can’t. So what of those who make a conscious decision to end the evil plaguing society. Those who take it upon themselves to rid the world of evil men, men who exploit the defenceless and torture the innocent. Individuals who claim the responsibility of bringing justice to those who deserve it, and defending the morals of those who put their faith in a system that no longer works. Sound familiar? Well I’m not talking about winged dark avengers of the night, I’m talking about individuals who cleanse society through what they claim to be, the word of God. And they’re not all that bad as they sound. Some even refer to them as ‘saints’.

Vigilante stories have been amazing movies, be it in blockbuster classics such as DIRTY HARRY or SHOLAY, or TV serials such as THE RENEGADE. But the brothers Duffy bring us a story which darkens, bloodies and drapes a religious cloth over the entire concept of vigilantes. THE BOONDOCK SAINTS isn’t an art film, it’s not an issue based movie, it’s not powerful grass roots cinema, but it is an amazing work of art. Director Troy Duffy takes the concept of vigilantes and portrays it in such a manner that we can all relate to. The want to do good. The basic and moral instincts to change the world, even in the smallest insignificant way. That’s essentially what THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is all about.

The story of two Irish brothers, the McManus boys find themselves in the hands of the law when they accidently murder two mobsters as part of a minor bar brawl. After being released of the murder, as it was completely in self defence, the neighbour-hood and media of Boston city dub the two young boys ‘saints’ for ridding their city of those two criminals. Feeling the need to do more good, the McManus brothers take it upon themselves to mercilessly execute all the criminals and otherwise scum of their city, starting with members of the organized crime families. Now this type of a story sets off the debate about how this kind of renegade judgement is in itself criminal because ‘how far do you go’ and ‘who judges the criminals to be criminals?’ And that’s where THE SAINTS differ. These Irish boys follow a strict code as interpreted in their Catholic religion, and they only cleanse society of the scum that are evil at heart. They understand that there are ‘varying degrees of evil’ but they only claim to judge the ones that ‘cross over into true corruption, their domain.’ Their basis for judging those who are truly corrupt is based on a code.

1) Do Not Kill.

2) Do Not Rape.

3) Do Not Steal.

According to them, these are a simple code which men of any faith can embrace, but the ones who violate these codes, are the ones who shall be judged by them.

THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is written and directed by Troy Duffy, who along with his own brother Taylor Duffy takes us through a muddy, crowded collage of sequences that leave your mind in complete disarray when you reach the end. The form of storytelling used by Duffy is incredible as it does not follow a linear or chronological pattern but relies more on the analysis of a situation by Willem Dafoe’s FBI agent Paul Smecker. Smecker, who is hot on the trail of the McManus brothers, always arrives at the scene late and then has to use his deductive skills to re-create the crime scene, which is how we, the audience, are exposed to each scene of judgement.

The performances in this movie are truly exceptional for actors that most of us have never heard of. The only main stream face in THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is that of Willem Dafoe, who stuns with an utterly shocking performance. Better known for the recent SPIDERMAN movies and the critically acclaimed SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, Willem Dafoe literally drops my jaw in this one with a role of that of a genius FBI special agent with very obvious, well, let’s say eccentricities. At times he provides an immense source of humour throughout the movie with his extremely sarcastic demeanour with which he treats people. Sean Patrick Flannery might be remembered for his YOUNG INDIANA JONES series from back almost 10 years ago, and more recently the chick flick with Sarah Michelle Gellar, SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE. Flannery shines with a performance as Connor, one half of THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, going through the city cleansing it of its criminal element. The other brother, Murphy, played by Norman Reedus, might be more remembered for his Scud in BLADE II. Even Reedus is noticed fully in this one as, the other Saint. Bill Connolly also surprises all that know him with a mind blowing portrayal. Although his significance in the movie will just have to be experienced, to be understood.

Troy Duffy has put himself on the map, in my mind at least, with such a spectacular showcase of brawn, brains, religion and not to mention, the balls to incorporate religious views in order to euthanize the criminal acts of vigilantes, who themselves claim to exist for the purpose of eradicating evil men. Being not only a genius filmmaker, Troy Duffy is also the lead singer of the former band ‘The Brood’, who has now dubbed themselves, ‘The Boondock Saints.’

Armed with the weapons of man, the words of God, and a family prayer, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS set out to cleanse the world of evil and send out a warning to all, to ensure that they never act in any way which might force them to meet paths with the Saints. Because the corrupt is their domain and they shall serve justice to those who dare to enter it. Keep this in mind, as they are working on a sequel come next year. Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will Will Be Done.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad

1 Comment

5 Obstructions Blogathon: Number 1 : Blank Page Beatdown · July 17, 2013 at 7:28 PM

[…] very dear to my heart as an example of vigilante awesome-ness, as can be seen in my original Review here from years ago. (I had to sneak in a good comment about the movie, considering how much I’ll be […]

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