Hit Rewind: ‘The Boondock Saints’ (1999)

They yell about promises of vigilantism as the camera sweeps around the room gathering memorable images that would make any producer yearn for merchandising rights. The scene ends with an Old Testament inspired prayer and a savage bit of violence.

The moment will win or lose audiences. What comes before it is a collection of scenes that (no surprise) were written by a musician/bartender/struggling screenwriter living in Boston.

“The Boondock Saints” is a fantasy for Americans who fantasize about being Dirty Harry hopped up on steroids when they see the justice system fail an endless array of victims.

We’re on a Mission from God

Conner and Murphy MacManus (a convincing Sean Patrick Flanery and ‘Walking Dead’ standout Norman Reedus) are Irish brothers who become vigilantes after receiving what they think is a message from God.

They set out on what one character describes as a “psycho” journey to wipe out the bad guys the law leaves behind.

“The Boondock Saints” gives validity to the adage, “one’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It is made with such political incorrectness, such unforgivable violence and glued together with such rough edges that it would come as no surprise to find out writer/director Troy Duffy did not rewrite his movie for any producer. He simply kept it as the honest violent political fantasy he intended.

For some, this will create problems. The characters speak in ways few adhere to except when they know absolutely no one else is around: the main characters kill with a certainty only found in fantasy and there’s a righteous energy to the film that will be off-putting to some. It refuses to succumb to anything but its own chaotic nature.

For others, the movie will be a breath of fresh air. Its powerful imagery, memorably violent and funny scenes, rock ‘n’ roll attitude towards everything from its own politics to its main heroes make it one hell of a ride.

From Willem Dafoe’s bizarre, openly gay FBI agent to the brothers’ buffoon friend Rocco (who shows us the “diversity” of a four letter word none of our mothers want to hear us say), “The Boondock Saints” is a strange bit of film propelled forward by a kinetic energy only the hungriest of artists possess.

“The Boondock Saints” is not a perfect by any stretch. Part of what is impressive about it is that it never tries to be. It manages to create its own standard.

Many will find “Saints” to be a rough around the edges, clichéd Tarantino rip-off. Those who feel the flick’s undeniable pulse will never forget it.

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