The Boondock Saints (NC-17 / unrated)
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This came out in 2000, but it was not widely released, and I don't remember whether or not I'd even heard of it until years later. Eventually (probably in the late 2000s), a lot of friends told me I had to see it. And I finally watched it in June of 2012. Oh, and I should also say, this movie is not to be confused with The Boondocks animated series, which has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. I should also say, the movie has not been well received by critics. 17% on Rotten Tomatoes? Are you fucking kidding me? This movie is fucking awesome. (Edit: I watched the sequel seven years after I watched this movie, so I took a look at this review to refresh my memory, also edited some links, and discovered that RT's score was up to 22%, which is still way less than the movie deserves.)
Anyway, it's set in Boston. There are these two Irish-American brothers, Connor and Murphy McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus), who clearly don't like the fact that everyone is so unwilling to do anything about all the crime and senseless violence in the world. At the start of the movie, it kind of felt like they were already vigilantes, but apparently they weren't. Not yet. The trouble really starts when the Russian mafia starts moving into their neighborhood. They were drinking at a pub on St. Patrick's Day, when some guys came in, wanting the place to close down then and there. Which seems pretty stupid, because the pub's owner (a guy called Doc, who has Tourette's) was already planning on closing, because of pressure from the mafia. I don't really have any damn idea why these guys came in that night, when he was apparently supposed to have til the end of the week to close. But if they hadn't, there'd be no plot. (I want to mention, in passing, that Doc was played by the same guy who played a very different character named Doc on Fraggle Rock.) Anyway, the McManus brothers and their friend David Della Rocco invite the Russian guys to just relax and have some drinks, but they refuse. Which leads to a bar brawl. And later, the Russian guys end up dead, after having tracked the brothers down in their home to exact revenge for the damn bar fight.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, just a bit. I need to mention that throughout the movie, whenever people get killed, we first see the crime scene being investigated, and then there's a flashback to the actual killings. There's an F.B.I. agent named Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), who takes over the investigation. There are also a few local cops we see at all the crime scenes, though I basically only felt like I got to know detective Greenly (played by comedian Bob Marley). Smecker constantly belittled him and his theories, which admittedly weren't always that clever. Though occasionally he was actually right, a fact which Smecker never seemed to acknowledge. Smecker himself was a hard character for me to really develop a definitive feel for. When we first meet him, he examines a crime scene while listening to classical music on a discman (the movie coming a bit before the advent of mp3 players). Which was kind of a nice touch for an eccentric detective, but I thought it seemed kind of silly in a realistic context. And he just generally seemed like an ass. And at first I thought some of his mannerisms were intended in a homophobic mocking way... but it's not long before we see he actually is gay. And it's not long after that that we see he has a disdain for, um... well, gay guys acting at all effeminate, I guess. He's got an unusual mix of machismo and understated flamboyance, I'd say. And he thinks too highly of himself and too little of others, and... I dunno. He's basically a very competent investigator, but far from infallible. Honestly, I just don't know whether to like him or hate him.
But anyway... the McManus brothers are clearly smart; at least, they speak a bunch of different languages. They turn themselves in after killing the Russian mobsters, but it's deemed self defense, and Smecker lets them go. The cops even seem to like them. But the brothers decide that they should start killing anyone they deem evil. Which basically means taking out the Russian mob, at first. But later they turn on the Italian mob, as well, after Rocco had been sent by his boss to kill the Russians, himself. It was clear that his boss didn't expect him to survive, and while he didn't want to believe that at first, he soon learns it's true, and joins the McManus brothers. He's much more excitable than they are, and not as skilled, nor as principled. But even they aren't exactly professionals. Basically, they get lucky. Like, ridiculously lucky. Even so... they're wicked cool when they're killing people. I have no idea why it never seemed to occur to Smecker that the McManus brothers were behind the sudden rash of killings, but... whatever.
Um, eventually, the Italian don, Joe Yakavetta, gets a guy called Il Duce (or "the Duke"; played by Billy Connolly) released from prison, where he's been for a couple decades or so, because he used to be the go-to guy for the former don, whenever he needed one of their own people killed. He sends the Duke after the brothers. I don't want to spoil how that turns out... but at the end of the film, the vigilantes are being called "the Saints" by the public and the media, and there's a lot of debate about whether what they're doing is right or wrong. And personally, my opinion is mixed.
Anyway, I thought it was a pretty fun movie, with some cool action, some really funny parts, and an interesting moral question. Mostly it was just totally unbelievable... but still... eh, maybe not so unbelievable. I dunno. I hope I'm not forgetting anything I wanted to say.
Followed by The Bondock Saints II: All Saints Day