The Boondock Saints (1999)
In 1974 a particularly violent film (for its time) shocked audiences with the idea that one man could so callously kill in the name of revenge. It was called Death Wish and starred one of the major actors of the time, Charles Bronson. The story was of a home invasion by three would-be thieves who are enraged when they find little money. In retaliation they beat and rape the mother and daughter of Bronson's character. The mother dies, the daughter, forever traumatized. The whole theme was controversial - is it right or wrong to go out for your own justice or depend on the police? The theme caught like wildfire - there were five Death Wish movies in all.
I Spit On Your Grave (1978), another type of vigilante movie, was about a beaten and raped woman who systematically stalks and kills each of her attackers. Again the question being - was she in the right?
So we fast forward to 1999. Twin brothers Connor and Murphy McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are good Irish Catholics who work in a meat packing plant. On St. Patrick's day they celebrate in their favorite pub, and are told by the tearful bartender that the pub is closing because it has been taken over by the Russian Mafia. In fact, some heavies from the Mafia come in to close the place early. There's a scuffle and the twins are marked by the very large Mafia dudes (guess they were doubly heavy) for death.
The next day the bodies of the Mafia men are discovered in an alley. The local police postulate several theories, none of them even remotely logical as to how the two died. In comes special FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), brought in since the dead men were recognized as Russian mob guys. He not only recognized immediately that the local police aren't trying very hard to solve the case but that something very interesting had happened in this alley. He was right.
The scene plays out - Conner and Murphy are attacked, one handcuffed to a toilet, the other taken into the alley to be shot. Conner (the one with the toilet) rips it from the wall and from the roof drops it on the man about to kill his brother. He then jumps down and both dispatch the men. They are now considered vigilantes and are targets of criminals and authorities. And thus the movie continues in this vein.
I don't think I have to really detail what happens in this movie - you know that they decide that fighting bad guys and cleaning up their neighborhood is their 'calling' and the FBI Agent who at first is determined to bring them to justice eventually decides that they ARE the justice doing what he really wants to do but can't.
The interesting parts of the movie are the scenes where the brothers are revealed to be quite intelligent - they are not thugs - in fact they know at least six if not more languages and are very religious. The agent can find nothing to fault them at the time - they did act in self defense - and lets them go.
They subsequently decide to clean up other bad guys - using techniques they've observed in movies. With incredible luck, even though massive screwups take place they win each time and many in several Mafia 'families' die. The FBI agent acts out each scenario as it takes place in slow motion behind him, making the scene look like a violent type of Tai Chi - very strange. It's also strange that they felt the need to point out that the agent was a homosexual - that seemed superfluous to the plot and had nothing to do with his abilities or character.
|Impossible and overdone..|
One Mafia boss decides to end the brothers once and for all by getting released from prison a real monster. His name is Il Duce and apparently he makes Hannibal Lector look like a boy scout. Shackled from head to toe and kept in a cage he is somehow paroled and instructed to take the brothers out. But as he's about to do that as they are ready to dispatch yet another bad guy, he hears them recite their family prayer - it's a ritual they use before every, um, murder. Instead of killing them, he puts his hands on their shoulders and finishes the prayer with them. Il Duce is their father.
The last Mafia boss, Papa Joe, is about to be acquitted for about the umpteenth time in court. The brothers, together with their 'da' walk into the courthouse and in front of the whole room dispatch Papa Joe. They walk out, free men and heroes to most of the spectators.
Okay people didn't like this movie at first but it's become kind of a cult movie, with a sequel following. I had several problems with it though (and I'm sure the female population will hate me for this). Two brothers, good Irish Catholic boys decide that murder is no big deal? And there were some goofs. One, everyone who's a fan of Norman Reedus knows he has his first name tattooed on his chest, yet in the movie his name is Murphy. Which is why the first rule of tattooing is never NEVER have a name tattooed on yourself, even if it's your own.
The scene where Connor throws the toilet from the roof also has some goofs - we see him haul it up and get ready to hurl it. The top of the tank comes off and falls first. We see that the toilet has no seat or seat cover. Yet when the toilet hits the mobster, it has both a seat and seat cover.
Again I have a problem as to why they made Dafoe's character a homosexual - not because of the sexual orientation, but because it has nothing to do with the plot or his character. Toward the end of the movie he shows up as a prostitute in drag to sneak into a mobster's house but that still doesn't explain why they made a point of showing him to be gay. Is it to show that intelligent FBI agents can be gay? We already know that. It was an unnecessary plot point is all.
Having Billy Connolly as the violent 'da' of the boys was also confusing and unnecessary, as the first time he finds the boys they have a shootout where each are injured - what was the point of that?
The language was also rough and unnecessary. These are supposed to be very intelligent and religious men. But this movie is far from the top when it comes to language - on a list of movies with multiple 'F' bombs, this movie has more than The Devil's Rejects, less than Pulp Fiction, more than Platoon (another Dafoe movie), and less than Goodfellas.
I guess I'm just not crushing on the brothers McManus.