I can’t say I fully understand the zeal of “The Boondock Saints'” (1999) cult following, but I had fun with it — I’d give it an 8 out of 10 for being unusual and unexpectedly diverting.
I don’t really see it as a crime thriller — it’s more like an absurdly violent situation-comedy. It borrows its tone and style from 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” not to mention its own shock-comedy throwaway scene involving an accidentally discharged sidearm.
Like its superior inspiration, its formula is creating quirky, likable characters with some funny dialogue, and then raising the tension by placing them in the midst of graphic violence. It mostly succeeds — Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus’ characters are endearing, cool and easy to root for. I laughed out loud a few times, and I can see how their telegenic antiheroes would attract a devoted fandom.
The directing seemed choppy and even amateurish. I noticed this right from the opening credits, which are awkwardly spliced with the onscreen introduction of the main characters.
The screenwriting is a little spotty, too — we’re never told, for example, how its two protagonists come to be such proficient assassins. (Are they former military? Is there a joke here I’m missing about them being “blessed,” consistent with the “saints” motif and all the references to Catholicism?) Nor do we get much meaningful information about their motivations. (Their bloody crusade begins only when they kill several gangsters in self-defense, then they seem to pursue a life of vigilantism as an afterthought.) Finally, our antiheroes seem refreshingly real and identifiable, while other characters (Willem Dafoe’s detective and Billy Connolly’s mafia hitman) seem cartoonish enough to populate a farce like “The Naked Gun” series).
Again, though — this was fun. I’d recommend it.