What Should I Watch?: ‘The Boondock Saints’ (1999)

Image via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Have you ever wondered what a younger Daryl Dixon looked like before the zombie apocalypse? Well, now you have your chance with the 1999 crime-thriller The Boondock Saints.

Despite its relatively small budget and limited release, this small picture has gone on to become a true cult classic. Directed by Troy Duffy, who would also go on to direct the sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, this underrated flick starred many notable actors, including Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead), Sean Patrick Flanery (Dexter, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter), comedian Billy Connolly (Brave, A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spider-Man).

The Boondock Saints focuses on two Irish brothers living in the town of Boston, who target and kill mob figures and other criminals with a sense of vigilante justice. As they lay down executions they recite family prayers and wear crosses, but also, like many Irishmen, spend their off time drinking at the local bar, served by a bartender with severe tourettes.

It sounds serious at first, but The Boondock Saints has a great comedic style to it. The film offered up a very ‘Tarantino-esqe’ tone and atmosphere with over-the-top gun violence and often humourous dialogue; think Reservoir Dogs with a pinch of Pulp Fiction and a very 90’s look.

Image via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Throughout the film the brothers are tracked down by Willem Dafoe, who plays FBI agent Paul Smecker. Dafoe goes so over-the-top with his performance – in a good way – that it’s probably one of the most underappreciated and hilarious roles that he’s ever undertaken. Many of the actors playing Russian and Italian mobsters also performed in appropriately over-the-top, stereotypical fashion. Flannery and Reedus have great chemistry as the two brothers and work well in their scenes with David Della Rocco (who plays a character with the same name and a friend of the brothers).

The whole film is a hilarious, gritty send up of 1990’s crime thrillers with memorable dialogue, but went somewhat unnoticed largely due to the Columbine Massacre, which occurred close to its release date and limited screenings due to the film’s frequent inclusion of gun violence. Its release may have also been affected by the strong presence of so many films within the same genre during this period, and possibly more successful ones, such as Tarantino’s 90’s crime films – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown – which had already introduced the mix of film genres and stitched together traits like humour, great dialogue, gun violence and heavy crime themes.

The Boondock Saints is an over-the-top, humourous, crime-thriller that works as great popcorn entertainment and as a fun throwback to 90’s classics. Grab a few mates, crack open a few beers and enjoy.