The Boondock Saints: 10th Anniversary (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Directed by Troy Duffy
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 109/110 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Review Date: June 14, 2011
For a good two-thirds of its running time, Troy Duffy’s The Boondock Saints sets itself up as the heir apparent to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It’s overriding sense of cool, its innovative structure, and its galvanizing photography capture and hold one’s attention. Things begin to go somewhat awry about twenty-five minutes before the end, but up until that time, the film’s flaws are minor, nit-picking ones, and the film’s joys and pleasures are manifold. Being made on a $6 million budget certainly isn’t betrayed by the excellent performances and the striking location and studio photography, all of which appear to belong to a film much more lavish than that skimpy budget should have brought the filmmakers.
A pair of Irish brothers Conner (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) McManus don’t like the fact that the Russian mob is moving into their neighborhoods, so with the help of know-it-all snitch/bag man Rocco (David Della Rocco), they begin a campaign to clean the area of these Russian hoods. The vigilante murders bring out the FBI’s crack lead detective Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) who, despite wanting to uphold the law, also can’t find much wrong with these lads taking out a large number of bad guys. But the mob isn’t going to take this lying down, and head man Yakavetta (Carlo Rota) sends for legendary hit man Il Duce (Billy Connolly) to learn the identities of these punks and take them out.
Writer-director Troy Duffy’s narrative structure for the film’s first three murder sequences which cover at least the first half of the film combines expertly shot and timed flashbacks and reenactments bouncing back and forth until each scenario has been thoroughly explained and then shown. While Duffy uses slow motion rather haphazardly and not always with consistent logic and certain scenes end abruptly, the early scenes are nevertheless effective, and the Irish duo’s easy camaraderie gives an extra lilt to the scenes which might otherwise be seen as overly horrific. Also, despite its reputation as being an extremely violent movie, much of the violence is right outside camera range, the director knowing just when the right moments are to show something graphic. The film’s narrative locomotive jumps the tracks, however, when Dafoe’s detective, rather than relating the crimes after the fact, begins inserting himself into the mayhem. Sure, the detective is at this point losing his equilibrium (though that’s not satisfactorily explained), but his presence amid the flying bullets and blood is a great distraction and takes the viewer out of the movie. From then on, the movie only works sporadically as it should, a letdown in comparison to the really impressive first two-thirds, but the film remains a hip jolt of pleasure even if it is imperfect.
Willem Dafoe takes lots of risks as this FBI agent who’s a curious mixture of egotistical flamboyance and sarcasm. Sean Patrick Flanery seems a bit more at ease before the camera than “sibling” Norman Reedus, but both actors let their Irish accents slip a little from time to time. David Della Rocco has fun as the over-the-top Rocco though he can sometimes seem a trifle amateurish. Much more solid are Carlo Rota and Billy Connolly who are believably menacing as the region’s reigning thugs. As the airhead police detective Greenly who’s the constant target of Smecker’s barbs, Bob Marley gives a amusing and enjoyable performance.
The film has been framed at 2.35:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is excellent throughout the presentation, and color saturation levels are solid. Flesh tones are very natural looking. In fact, except for some average black levels and occasional specks, the image is first-rate. The film (both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut) has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is impressive for a low budget film. Lacking are consistently interesting surround effects in the various front and rear channels though Jeff Danna’s music score and excerpts from La Bohème receive excellent placement throughout the soundstage. The Irish brogues the brothers sport are a bit difficult to decipher at certain times, but their speech and all of the rest of the dialogue have been placed firmly in the center channel.
The disc offers both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut of the film. There is less than a minute’s difference in their running times so likely a few extra shots of graphic violence have been added back into the movie.
There are two audio commentaries available for listening, both attached to the director’s cut of the film. The more interesting of the two is director-writer Troy Duffy’s comments on his film explaining his work processes and his actors’ performances with insight and clarity. Actor Billy Connolly, who doesn’t appear until the film’s last third, has less to say, and his commentary is much more start and stop than Duffy’s, but fans of the film will want to hear his thoughts on the movie as well.
“The Boondock Saints – The Film and the Phenomenon” is new featurette for this release, a 29-minute reunion between director Troy Duffy and three of his actors: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and David Della Rocco. The four men reminisce about their experiences and show clips of favorite moments from the film not only featuring them but also some moments with Willem Dafoe and Billy Connolly, too. It’s in 1080p.
There are 1 ½ minutes of outtakes which are presented in 480i.
The theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes in 480i.
There are seven deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 19 ¼-minute group. They’re in 480i.
The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the film with enclosed instructions and code number for installation on Mac and PC devices.
4/5 (not an average)
Is The Boondock Saints a patch on Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, the film it most closely resembles stylistically and narratively? Of course not, but on its own it’s an entertaining thriller with some unexpected twists along the way for those who are first-time viewers. The Blu-ray presents a fine package of bonus material along with a sterling audio and video transfer. Recommended!