The Boondock Saints, is a beloved action “cult classic”. At least that’s what the internet movie cognoscenti would have you believe. Having been raised on Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme and Seagal, I always appreciate movies where plot is incidental and explosions are essential.
Especially when Ron Jeremy, legendary thespian, has a role.
The Boondock Saints is a story about two Irish brothers who have recently immigrated to Boston.
But these aren’t ordinary Patties. They speak several languages. They practice a bizarre form of Catholicism. They kill off bad guys. That’s it. That’s the plot and the main characters, all in one. It’s never explained why they came to the USA. It’s never explained why they were uber educated.
The ball (or balls, rather) that gets the movie rolling is a pair of Russian mob thugs who try to close down their favorite bar. Because their favorite bar is threatened, they beat the crap out of the Russian mobsters. Boris and Boris seek out revenge and the Saints kill them instead. Their trail of death and destruction through Boston’s underworld is all set off because they couldn’t get drunk anywhere else. Sometimes the best premises are the most simple ones!
The Saints are played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus. They aren’t cold, brooding vigilantes like The Punisher (well, Thomas Jane, blonde pretty boy, is the Punisher so maybe that’s a bad example) or Batman. They bumble and they laugh and they get into sibling fights as they engage in mass murder. But it’s mass murder of bad guys. So, it’s cool. The debate over whether vigilantism is justified isn’t even touched in the course of the movie, thankfully. This movie is about Guns and Ammo, not philosophical debates.
Ron Jeremy has a role, for Christ’s sake. If the Hedgehog is in your movie, you don’t bother with moralizing.
Willem Dafoe plays an openly gay FBI organized crime investigator who is hot on their tail. It’s a fresh take on a movie archetype. And Dafoe, as always, delivers a fine performance (which includes Dafoe in drag – that’s worth the price of admission).
But because the Saints are killing off scum, the local police and populace aren’t really up in arms. Eventually, even Dafoe’s character begins to question his campaign against them.
The movie essentially trails the Saints as they wipe out the tyranny of evil men. That’s the whole plot. It does have some nice twists and a decent surprise ending.
Is this what it takes to make a modern action movie a “cult classic”? Sprinkle a few bits of originality over an established form? Are Hollywood action movies so bad that this slightly better than mediocre film gets this aplomb? Sadly, with the state of most mainstream actioners, this probably is a classic.
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