06 February 2008

The Boondock Saints (sucks your will to live)


The cult success of The Boondock Saints confounds me. In my mind, there are only two possible explanations for its relatively high regard: 1) a halo effect from the well received documentary Overnight, about writer/director Troy Duffy's abrupt rise and ego-laden fall from Hollywood's good graces, and 2) nostalgia for the mid to late 90's when every other movie was a shameless rip-off of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Considering that Pulp and The Professional, two of my favorite films, are shamelessly looted from here, I was almost bemused watching it. It's like I was in high school again.

Reminiscing aside, The Boondock Saints is ridiculously stupid. It's built around the intriguing premise of two blue collar immigrant hoods becoming vigilante killers, but the writing is all over the map. It wants to be gritty and bold and daring and dynamic, but succeeds only in being juvenile and inane. The fact that it's a rehash in terms of characters, tone, the fractured timeline, and a pop philosophy, only adds to its maddening retardedness. That's right, it's so dumb I had to use the word "retardedness."

The real trouble with the film -- aside from the retardedness -- is its wildly uneven tone. Portentous religious overtones give way to farcical fat jokes, followed by obligatory timeline manipulation, and then Willem Dafoe's sitcom creation of a character. It's been almost a week since I've seen the movie and I still can't wrap my head around Dafoe's Will & Grace-esque gay FBI agent who's childish putdowns are made to be intelligent by virtue of the other policemen being stupid. I suspect the character is supposed to subvert expectations, but it's a nonsensical mish-mash of caricatures. It's like Duffy didn't want to offend gay people, FBI agents, or children, so he combined all the worst stereotypes into a cartoon and then directed Dafoe to channel Gary Oldman in The Professional. I could be paraphrasing, but he actually razzes another cop with, "Who's getting coffee? THIS GUY!"

Seriously, WTF?

I don't say juvenile to mean I was offended. The film simply feels like it was vomited into existence, the half-digested remains of something tastier and more satisfying. It wants to be vibrant and fresh by punctuating its serious moments with silliness, but it ends up undermining any pathos the story had going. One scene features an accidental shooting of a cat that's so awkwardly handled, the ensuing scene just gives up on the joke, turning what was an (unfunny) bit into a boilerplate argument between previously simpatico characters. The film wants to subvert your expectations, but it doesn't set up any expectations, nor does it establish any kind of heightened reality. It assumes you've seen the films of Tarantino, Scorcese, Besson, et al. Except if you have seen those films, then The Boondock Saints sucks even more.

I'm proud to say I've never walked out of a movie, but The Boondock Saints pushed me to my limits. And I was watching it at home, so walking out would have been a tremendous feat. But who would consider walking out of their own living room to get away from an atrociously conceived and produced movie?

This guy!


Anonymous said...

First of all, I don't feel you get the true flavor out of the movie: you must have no taste for quality movies at all. Furthermore, when ripping on a film you claim is bad, don't use "big" "complex" words such as "WTF."

Francisco Magdaraog said...

Perhaps you can enlighten me as to "the true flavor of the movie" and cite your own taste for quality movies in your argument. I'd argue that the true flavor of this film is the handful of better crime films it clearly aspires to be, unless you can convince me otherwise.

You can't tell me Willem Dafoe's first scene isn't a crass rehash of Gary Oldman "sniffing" out the truth in an early scene of the Professional. Or that the arbitrarily fractured timeline isn't influenced by Tarantino. And while Tarantino is, of course, a derivative director himself, he manages to make his stories fresh and energetic (at least most of the time). The Boondock Saints lacks any real twists on its ideas that would make them at least feel new.

WTF stands for "What the fuck" and I have no better way to express my exasperation while watching this film. This is a film in which a cat is shot as a cheap punchline, nothing more. I didn't feel the need to pull out my copy of Roget.

Anonymous said...

I had actually only recently seen the film after hearing the praises of "best movie ever" from just about everyone I knew. Now I will say that my opinion may be biased based on the fact that I had seen Overnight a couple of years before.

After seeing Boondock Saints I had to search to try and find out if there was anyone eles out there that could possibly see this movie for what it is, just plain bad.

This was an amateurish rip-off of a million different styles ranging from Tarantino, Rodriguez, Luc Besson, etc.

Maybe if it had been directed by someone other than Duffy, if some other director could have injected their own style into it, it may have been decent (not good). Possibly, who knows. Can't wait for part 2 (insert sarcasm)

Ken said...

I'm one of the few people I know willing to see this film for what it really is- an extremely long trailer. It's just two hours of "Oh Snap!" scenes followed by silly scenes. Everything about this movie is the epitome of shallow pop posturing- two brothers (all about the "cool" side of Christ) in sunglasses and trench coats who pull out the cigarettes the second they leave the church, a bartender with tourette's, a gay (uses "fag" in a derisive way... what?), flamboyant FBI agent (who also constantly smokes) with an eye for crime scenes and an ear for classical music, a silent mafia hit-man with round-framed rose-tinted glasses, the mysterious "Il Duce" (trenchcoat, sunnglasses, but cigars- does it get any cooler?).

No plot. The theme is vigilantism, but it provides no insight or analysis- it's 20 scenes of shooting mafiosos and then manages to be unsure of itself by ending with a reel of citizen's opinions.

One thing I just love about this film though- "Bad television." Willem Dafoe concludes that the brothers' way of serving up justice comes straight out of bad television- why does Troy Duffy think that telling everyone your movie is a piece of crap makes it anything but?

Francisco Magdaraog said...

@Ken Pop posturing pretty much encapsulates this movie. Couldn't say it any better.

@Anonymous (the 2nd one) agree it could have been half-decent in another director's hands. Especially if said director sat down with Duffy and commanded a more stringent rewrite of the story. Alas.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Sir, But you really made that quote up. The timeline is simple to follow (as opposed to the Tarantino stereotype), and the movie was in good taste.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people fuckin shit all over this movie. The movie industy has been full of rip offs over the last twenty years, and most of them have been bad movies. This is one of the few rip offs, if you can even call it that, that is a great movie. Just cause it has to do with mobs, killers, and crazy cops doesnt really make it a rip off. The story of this movie is almost completely different from the other movies you mentioned, its just a movie in an overdone genre. Any way you look at it, it was a great movie, and it deserves more praise than you guys are giving it

Francisco Magdaraog said...

Clearly, this flick is popular, as this post is hands down the most read of any of mine (it's over a year old already). I haven't written a new post in 3 months, and this one still keeps getting hits.

Anyway, Ryan, I don't dislike it simply for being unoriginal. I totally agree that this genre has been (and will always be) done to death. Now that I'm looking back at my review, I probably overstated the rip-off point. What bothers me about Boondock Saints is how arbitrary and cheap it felt, IMO. The comedy fell flat, the whole timeline manipulation was completely pointless (as if the audience doesn't know who was pulling off these murders), and it didn't really follow through thematically.

As I pointed out in my review, it's definitely an intriguing premise, but I felt like this was a good idea for a film instead of a fully realized film.

Enko Scotch said...

Thank you. Really, Thank you. You have given me hope that there are more people in this world that realize how terrible this piece of shit movie is. Before I even saw it, people were telling me to see it. As if I was missing the greatest achievement in movie making history. All I could do through watching the damned thing is point out all the scenes, characters, and dialog that was POORLY ripped off from Goodfellas, The Professional, Pulp Fiction, and other various award-winning films. What gets me the most is how people can even call this a good movie. Seriously. Its not even entertaining.

ems said...

I watched this "film" after seeing the five-star rating on Amazon. I had to force myself to finish it.

It boggles the mind how this POS could get such a high rating on Amazon. Who are these people? The only explanation I could think of is that this nutso Duffy's message resonates with other nutjobs, and we know there's no shortage of THEM out there.

Good work, kabayan.

noah said...

Here's another comment and website hit in the hope that some other poor bastard who is as baffled by this movie's success as I am, will find this post and feel at ease knowing that not every person on this planet is this easily impressed.

It offers nothing new or original in any capacity unless you count poorly-realized and contradictory themes colliding for tenuous reasons. It doesn't look good, sound good, or feel complete as a film with this level of success and regard should. Sean Patrick Flanery seems like a perfectly good actor, Willem Dafoe is talented, and Billy Connolly has chops too. Sad thing is, their characters are like stock genre caricatures with asinine motivations. This is made worse by the fact that the sequel - I know, why did I subject myself to it? - was vastly more retarded than this and looked even more amateurish.

Watch OVERNIGHT and tell me you don't see this film as representative of everything that is wrong with Hollywood: unwarranted hype.

Anonymous said...

I hate this movie with a passion. Now otherwise, it would be a forgettable mediocre flick, but the problem is I have heard so many people literally call it "One of the greatest films ever made" that I'm driven to pure hatred.

I have heard phrases like "thematic genius" thrown around. Seriously. There are tons of people out there who think this is a deeply complex moral tale. Even if you watch it as a brainless fun action movie, it still sucks! It's amateurish and horribly made. Your average film student could make something much more professional and slick.

I can understand why 15 year olds might like this. Hell, I might have liked it when I was 15. It's juvenile and appeals to macho instincts. But when fully grown adults like it? My only explanation is that they watched it when they were 15, loved it, and now have a blind spot for it's terribleness.