The Boondock Saints (2005 film review)


March 7, 2005

You know that Simpsons episode with Mel Gibson? The one where Homer complains about how much he hates Mel's new remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and then gets to completely remake it as a bloodthirsty revenge flick?

Sometimes I openly wonder if the kids understand satire. When Mel Gibson decapitates the President and impales a Congressman with the American flag, it's supposed to be a joke. They're making fun of violent, pointless action movies. Get it?

Sigh. We're churning out a generation of college students who expect nothing more from the movies than explosions, fart jokes and bullets. We're a generation that is remarkably spoiled, and have never bled or suffered a day in our lives. We're turning fat and lazy, crude and stupid.
Most of them have probably never seen a great movie in their lives, almost certainly nothing before they were born (Star Wars is as far back as they go). So when your diet consists solely of junk food, you believe that junk food is all there is to this life.

It's a primary reason why young adults in America can shuffle in front of television screens for a hideous train wreck like The Boondock Saints. They're being served six-month-old leftovers from the same stupid action movies they've been raised on. But this atrocious movie can't even succeed on that level.

What is there to tell? Cheap gangster stereotypes? Pretty boys who pose with their guns (ahem)? Revenge fantasies given some false veneer with religious imagery? Slow motion shootouts? Beware the overuse of slow motion. It's the surest sign the filmmaker is a hack.
Just what is the point here? It's as if Troy Duffy, the writer-director, is pouring the worst cliches of Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, and The Matrix into a blender, and expecting us to ask for seconds. You could almost accept is as bad satire, and enjoy it like all those old Ed Wood movies, but Boondock Saints is far too pompous and full of itself. Duffy shoots scenes as though he's reinventing cinema; he really does believe all this pointless violence is profound and meaningful. Spare me.

You know when your movie has lost all sense of respect? When poor Willem Dafoe is reduced to flailing about and walking around in drag. When a much-feared hitman turns out to be Billy Connely, the stand-up comic (I guess Steven Wright was busy). When three men, standing less than ten feet apart, start shooting at one another and no one gets hit. When Ron Jeremy shows up.

The story of Troy Duffy is actually a far more interesting one, as told in the 2003 documentary Overnight. Duffy was a bartender with a rock band and a screenplay, who in 1997 was courted by Miramax to make into a feature. Despite the very obvious fact that he had no experience actually making movies, he is handed everything he wants on a silver platter.

One would expect him to be grateful and eager to prove himself, but Duffy proved far too pompous and arrogant for that. His ego trip proved his undoing, as Miramax pulled out of the deal, leaving him with nothing. Eventually, Boondock Saints was picked up by Franchise Films for half the original Miramax budget. The movie was submitted to Sundance, but ignored; it eventually plays for one week on five screens.

So now we're back to the DVD, which is where our best and brightest are wasting precious brain cells on this schlock. I don't want to be harsh to you kids, because I was there once. But, still, you should know better. Your lives are short, and your minds are precious. You must treasure them, and make them grow, not drown them in crude psychosis. Go listen to some Bob Dylan records. Read a few books. Watch a great movie; a really great movie that fills you with life, not one that drowns in death.

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