The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Boondock Saints

Released completely under the radar in 1999, The Boondock Saints has gotten the last laugh in recent years. The low-budget movie has become a cult hit on DVD in the decade since with its blend of action and comedy and what has to be a record-setting use of the word 'f*ck' in a movie.

Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) McManus are two Irish brothers living in Boston, making a living as meat packers and living in illegal loft housing. Here's their supremely cool intro. One night at the local bar, three Russian thugs come in saying the place must be closed down. Cue to the next morning when an FBI investigator, Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe), arrives a crime scene where two of the thugs have been killed. So starts a movie that is a ton of fun to watch.

The two brothers become vigilantes, killing all of the evil in society. Their friend Rocco says it best, "We could kill everybody!" Rocco was a messenger boy for the local Italian mob family and joins the McManus brothers in their efforts as they wipe out all the scum in the city. The only problem? Their actions have drawn attention, and the mob turns to a hired killer the likes of which has never been seen, Il Duce. Here's my personal favorite, their first meeting.

Much of the movie makes fun of the action genre while having really cool gunbattles throughout. In one argument as Connor and Murphy stock up on firearms, Connor points out they need some rope because 'Charlie Bronson always had rope.' Murphy's response is perfect, 'This isn't a movie.' That sums up the whole tone of the movie in one exchange of dialogue. Director Troy Duffy makes a movie that's very aware of what it is doing. The action? Completely over the top. The dialogue? Cheesey and cliched at points, but it works just as the movie on a whole does.

As brothers Connor and Murphy, Flanery and Reedus hit all the right notes. The conversations between them feel like brothers, not just two actors thrown together and told to memorize their lines. But as good as the brothers are, this is Wilem Dafoe's movie. Dafoe plays Smecker, an FBI investigator who can figure out and read crime scenes when no one else can piece it together. Always know for his quirky roles, this might be the quirkiest with some nice touches added to his character. He's gay but calls other gay men 'f*gs' and fairies. Examining crime scenes, he listens to opera. Smecker is the most three-dimensional of the characters, a man torn between what his job requires him to do and what his head tells him to do. David Della Rocca plays Roc, the brothers' Italian friend. Rocca plays the character completely off the wall which wears thin at times, but it works because I found myself liking the character. Billy Connolly makes a brief but memorable appearance as hitman extraordinaire Il Duce.

The movie is a polarizing one for any number of reasons ranging from violence to language to the plotline of vigilante killers. I can understand why people dislike this movie or in some cases hate it, but I loved it. There's a style to it that many movies are missing, especially movies with budgets much larger than Duffy used here. Good news too, looks like a sequel is being released on DVD this year. The pessimist in me says a straight-to-DVD release = bad movie, but I'll take my chances.

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