The Boondock Saints Review
One of the great things about Overnight, Mark Brian Smith and Troy Montana’s cautionary tale about fucking up in Hollywood, was the fact that you didn’t need to have seen The Boondock Saints in order to have understood it. Though that film was at its centre, Smith and Montana gave us more than enough information to realise that Troy Duffy, its writer/director, was, for want of a better word, a complete and utter prick. Indeed, you also argue that he was a talentless prick as The Boondock Saints is a hardly a classic in any sense of the word, an element furthered by the fact that it now gets a DVD re-release paired with its ‘making of’ and not the other way around.
The biggest problem we have when watching The Boondock Saints, especially after having sampled Overnight, is trying to work out exactly why Miramax were so interested in snapping it up. For what we have is a film which feels like a copy of a copy - a collage of Duffy’s favourite moments cribbed from the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese. No points for originality there then, nor is there any form of subtlety. If you’re going to have someone walk in slow motion to some guitar-based music then of course we know you’re ripping off Mean Streets’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ sequence. And likewise if an accidental death is suddenly announced by the impromptu appearance of a giant blood stain, then surely it is Pulp Fiction which the writer had in mind.
But do we need another Scorsese/Tarantino clone? Of course not, and especially if its end up like this. Essentially, we have a pair of Irish brothers living in Boston who set about wiping out various factions of the Russia mob (plus sundry other lowlifes) and become cult heroes as a result. All of which recalls a somewhat looser take on Natural Born Killers (or, if you want to be harsh, S.F.W.), though the looseness has rendered it somewhat inadequate. For rather than have any kind of grand structure, Duffy simply repeats the same ideas ad nauseum. The brothers head out to kill someone, we then cut to Willem Dafoe’s detective on the case, at which point their various massacres are revealed as he works out what happened – and so it goes until something approximating an ending is brought into play. Indeed, it all adds up to another interminable violence and bad language concoction leavened only by some supposedly clever post-Tarantino style dialogue.
Yet simply having an intelligent character or two does not equal an intelligent screenplay. Rather it’s one populated solely by tics as opposed to characteristics: we have a character with Tourette’s simply because it allows for a few more “fucks” to get onscreen; Dafoe’s detective is made a homosexual presumably as a means of explaining his taste in opera. And likewise, Duffy’s directorial contribution works along similar lines. Every shot either comes from the end of a crane or is frantically handheld, yet the reason for such techniques is never properly discerned. You want to scream at him to simply leave the camera alone and keep it still – to which he’d probably respond that he’s doing because he can.
Indeed, it all comes down to a certain indulgence, an aspect that could very well be The Boondock Saints’ defining characteristic. Porn star Ron Jeremy, for example, crops up for a humourless cameo, whilst the acting as a whole is similarly out of control. From the wayward accent of Sean Patrick Flannery (former Young Indiana Jones) to the sheer level of shouting and screaming, Duffy never once seems to be in any kind of command. As writer and director it would appear that the directing half of the equation is simply there to make the screenplay sound as “cool” as possible, whatever that may mean.
What makes this worse is the fact that the casting has led to so many bland actors occupying the various roles and as such no means of imposing themselves on the production. Only Dafoe, unsurprisingly, is able to counteract this, though clearly he’s bored with the entire thing. Instead, he goes for the weird route and turns in an agreeably oddball turn that just about holds the picture together. Indeed, those checking out The Boondock Saints having seen Overnight may find that he’s the only thing to keeps them getting through to the end.
The disc which Metrodome have included as part of their twin-pack with Overnight is exactly the same as the one released by Cinema Club right down to the menus and disc label. As such we get a serviceable transfer which is clean, of decent enough clarity, but non-anamorphic despite having a ratio of 2.35:1. The soundtrack is similarly okay, allowing us the original DD2.0 mix, without ever really impressing. And as for the extras, these are non-existent – indeed the disc doesn’t even come with a scene selection menu, just the option to press play.
As such what we get is the kind of thing which is acceptable enough as a freebie, but nothing more. And seeing as both the price difference between Overnight and the Overnight-The Boondock Saints double bill is negligible (as is for that matter the cost of The Boondock Saints’ standalone offering), it really would be churlish to complain. That said, it is an awful and Overnight probably plays much better without this bitter aftertaste to contend with.