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“The Boondock Saints” or “the poor man’s Tarantino…for stupid people”

“The Boondock Saints” or “the poor man’s Tarantino…for stupid people”

Waste of Time
Apr 13, 2011


“Gee, help where have I seen this pose before?”

"...oh that's right...Pulp Fiction."


Years ago there was a slow, visit growing buzz about this gritty, generic action-packed crime thriller featuring a couple o’ Irish brothers. I’ve got a wee bit o’ the Irish in me myself. So, I thought, “With a little luck, this might be gold”. I ran out to the video store and rented me a copy.

I hated it. In fact, I turned it off midway through. It was too ridiculous for me to keep watching. Well, this week the DeFranco Nation Movie Club put this one in the qeue. So, I HAD to watch it again. Now, it had been a while since I saw it the first time. So, I sat down with an open-mind and a willingness to glean any goodness I could from this film.

It was worse than I had remembered. This film is so poorly made on ALL levels, I wanted to whack myself over the head with a shillelagh. So, where to start? Well, allow me break it down into 4 areas. Writing, directing, acting and editing.

The writing, while filled with potential, is sloppy. The trajectory of the story arc is typical but filled with a variety of unnecessary and confusing elements. The lines given to many of the characters are cliche. The directing doesn’t help the writing (perhaps because first-time writer/director Troy Duffy did both). His pacing is horrible. You’re never really quite sure why things are happening. The motivation of the characters is unclear and unconvincing. I’m sure it all made sense in Duffy’s mind. But he didn’t translate it onto the celluloid very well. The acting is either bland or just plain lame. The MacManus brothers are flat and boring. Willem Defoe is, as he often is, over-the-top. Billy Connolly is cool but does a miserable Irish accent. It actually made me giggle a couple of times. And finally, the editing is probably the worst I’ve seen from a Hollywood film…ever. The cuts are premature, cross-fades that make you ask, “why was there a cross-fade?”, music that fades in and out without any consideration for how sound should impact, not detract from, a scene.

Add to that the crappy music, distracting product-placement and the blatant stealing from other films (namely The Professional and Pulp Fiction). In fact, there is a scene where the “Saints” are having a heated talk in an apartment. One of the guns accidentally goes off and sprays the pet cat all over the wall. All that’s left is a massive splatter of blood and guts. Sound familiar? Yes, Pulp Fiction had a similar scene…5 years earlier. Tarantino knew how to execute it such that is was so unexpected, so shocking. AND he continued to work with it over the following scenes of the movie as it actually became a part of the plot-line. Duffy just does the “cat-shot-by-accident” scene and then moves on. Amateur, at best.

I guess that’s reflective of “The Boondock Saints” as a whole. It feels like a series of cool and exciting action scenes that are simply strung together with little care for character development and engaging the audience at a gut level. I guess for some that’s enough. This film does have it’s following (albeit small). For the rest of us who actually want to understand what we’re watching and be transported into an experience, this film offers nothing but an empty pot at the end of a very dull rainbow.

About the Author

Craig the Critic


  1. Clearly it’s a completely different pose, Craig. Pulp Fiction has guns raised, while the Saints have them hanging down all cool-like.

    Get a grip on reality.


    • Don’t forget the Saints are holding the guns with their outer hands while Samuel L. and Travolta are both holding their guns with their left hands. You’re right! What AM I talking about!? Totally different.

      • I am going to voice my own opinion on this criticism, starting off with the pose.

        That pose is so basic that I don’t think you could even trace it back to Tarantino’s film. I’m sure if you looked, you could find multiple covers or posters for action movies of the two main characters holding guns at the direction of whoever is looking. Really, it’s not that original. Not to mention, Travolta’s and Jackson’s pose isn’t even shown in the movie more then a few times, while, inside the Boondock Saints, it’s the twins signature pose.

        Now, you say that the story line is hard to follow and you don’t know what’s going on? I watched this first when I was relatively young and I knew what was going on throughout the whole movie. I don’t know what it is, but maybe you should have paid a bit more attention. Even if you looked away for a few minutes or walked in 30 minutes late, it was easy to catch up on.

        At one point in your review, I think you contradict yourself without knowing it. You say, “The directing doesn’t help the writing (perhaps because first-time writer/director Troy Duffy did both)…”, then, later on proceed to call his work amateur and sloppy. All I could say to this is, “Well, um, duh!” If it’s your first time riding a bike on your own, are you going to do perfect? In some rare cases, yes, you’ll be excellent and you won’t fall down. BUT, in most cases, no. You’re going to fall down and hit a few bumps in the road.

        I think Duffy did a excellent job for this being his first film. Sure, there was some editing issues. But you know what, editing errors in the movie don’t determine how good it actually is. Do you watch a silent film and go, “Oh, this is stupid. The editing is just horrible. I can’t stand this.”?

        Plot wise, I thought it was pretty original. Two Irish twin brothers are living in America, seemingly enjoying their life when they get into a bar fight on St. Patricks day. The next day when the Mobsters from the bar come back for revenge, the brothers kill them off and realize that they should do this frequently, because they felt it cleansed the sin from the city. They get a guy to tag along and start getting in trouble with the law, but the main detective sees the right in what they are doing and tries to stop them from being caught. The characters, I believe, are brilliant. The gay detective who listens to classical music while solving murders, the Irish twin brothers who have a way with guns, and the funny guy (there’s always a funny character, right?)

        Please, if you have ever seen another movie made before this one that had a similar plot and characters, feel free to call me out on my words.

        Now, your opinions on the acting is something I can’t change your mind on because everyone has different views on what they like in a actor. Personally, I love Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery.

        To wrap up this response, I’m going to say that I couldn’t disagree more with a review. But, this is all just my personal opinion and I know I’m not going to change yours.

        • Hey Izzy,
          Wow. I’m not sure where to begin with your critique of my critique. Let’s start with the pose, shall we? While the pose thing may be seen in other movies, you can’t deny that Pulp Fiction cemented it into pop culture’s consciousness. There were posters and tshirts with that shot after that movie. AND that pose wasn’t even the movie poster. So, for Duffy to use it as his movie poster 5 years later is simply lame.
          I never said I couldn’t “follow the movie” and that I didn’t know what was going on. I said I was “never really quite sure why things are happening”. I was pointing out that with good screenwriting the audience understands the motivation of the characters. We should know why things are happening or if it’s a mystery, we will at least know by the end of the film. Point is, the screenplay was a mess with lots of things happening that didn’t tie into the bigger picture. As cool as they were, they served no purpose. That is simply bad art.
          Now Izzy…oh, Izzy…you accused me of “contradicting” myself. I’m afraid you’re using big words that you don’t understand. Yes, I said this was Duffy’s first foray into film-making. Yes, I said his work was amateur and sloppy. This is not a contradiction. What you’re opposed to is the fact that I’m not allowing Duffy to be excused for doing crappy work because it’s his first time out. Just because it was his first time does not give him license to make garbage. There are hundreds of first-time filmmakers who deliver professional, excellent movies (Rian Johnson, Christopher Nolan and Tarantino, to name a few). That is why those directors continue to work and get recognized for the brilliant artists they are. Oh, while I’m thinking of it, what has Troy Duffy done lately? …NOTHING! He’s directed two films. And one was a sequel of the other. So, I’ll let those facts speak for themselves. And clearly the FACTS back up my opinion and make your argument kind of sad.
          Regarding editing, you lost me on your silent film analogy. Are you inferring that all silent films were badly edited? I don’t agree. Plus, you have to evaluate the technical merit of a film based on the era it was made in. 100 years ago, editing films was a manual, tedious science with very rough tools. Today films are edited on computers and the tools we have are incredibly precise. There is no excuse for poorly edited films today. You may not care, but as a film enthusiast it is an element of the art form that I pay attention to. So do most other film lovers. That’s why there’s this little event once a year called, the “Oscars”. Have you heard of it? At the Oscars they give awards to those people who produce artistically AND technically excellent films. I don’t believe The Boondock Saints (1 or 2) were nominated. Certainly not for “Best Editing” (it’s an actual catagory…so, that means editing is kinda important).
          As for as the plot goes, I never said it was unoriginal. The basic plot was fine. My problem was the execution of the plot. Like I said, the pacing was brutal, there were a variety of scenes or elements that did nothing to support the plot, and more importantly there was no character development.
          And regarding the actors, I actually really like Reedus and Flanery as actors. Unfortunately, they didn’t shine in the film. If anything, I blame Duffy for that (again). Great actors can come off as horrible actors when given crappy scripts and bad direction. So, I don’t blame them. They are usually great actors.
          As for your personal opinion, I’m glad you have one. But you’re right, you’re not going to change mine. And besides, didn’t you read my tagline…I have “the right opinion” ;P

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