Assault with a stupid movie.

I was running low on blog ideas (it always seems so easy to create a fun and engaging blog until I inevitably end up getting bored with the whole thing) when for some reason, “The Boondock Saints” came to mind. I’m not sure why: I only saw the movie one time about seven or eight (if not longer) years ago and I was really drunk at the time.

Maybe it was the fact that, as I sit at the coffee shop, listening to difficult electronic music (HIPSTER LEVELS PEAKING) a young man danced through the shop with headphones on, listening to classical music and reliving a moment that existed only in his head, a scene from the recent past. Perhaps the scene of a crime?

I don’t know, that didn’t really happen but as anybody who has seen “The Boondock Saints” can attest it actually does happen in this movie. In fact, it’s acted out by “better-than-this-shit” actor Willem Dafoe who has a tendency to be either really, really good (if the movie he is in is good) or really, really bad (if the movie he is in is really bad).

I call this the “Michael Caine” effect. Note how brilliant Caine is in Nolan’s Batman movies or in films like “Zulu.” Those were brilliant films. However, note how awful he is (I mean incredibly amateurish) in films like “Jaws: The Revenge” and “That One Steven Seagal Movie Who’s Name I Always Forget.” In fact, Caine infamously accepted an Academy Award on the set of “Jaws: The Revenge” and quipped “I never saw the movie but I greatly enjoy the summer home it bought” or something to similar effect.

I’m not even supposed to be here today.

Willem Dafoe suffers from a similar fate. While the guys is undoubtedly a great actor, he seems to be what could be termed a “working actor” or “guy who stars in a lot of things because it’s his job.” The opposite of this would be the “Daniel Day-Lewis” approach wherein he never stars in ANYTHING unless he “believes in it.” I refuse to believe Willem Dafoe “believed” in “The Boondock Saints” or “Spiderman 2.” It wouldn’t invalidate such riveting performances as his subtle and nuanced role in “Platoon” but it certainly makes you think.

My…dignity fell off!

Of course, a valid counter response to that would be to say that Dafoe is simply having fun with these roles. “Dude, relax,” I can hear many “Spiderman 2” and “Boondock Saints” fans chanting, “guy is just letting off some steam and having some fun. It’s a little over the top but it’s fun, bra. Just take it easy.”

First of all, I resent being called a “bra.” I have fondled many fine breasts in my time but I”m certainly nowhere near the size and shape to be considered a “bra.” It seems like it would be uncomfortable for me to follow women around, hugging their bodies, hands up their shirt and giving their breasts firm and comfortable support with my hands.

More uncomfortable for them, I admit but I have my own life and I don’t want to devote it to being a “bra.”

Other than that, the dude-bros do have a point. I am perhaps looking too heavily into things here and taking life and cinema a bit too seriously. Surely, there is time for fun, laughter and silliness. Not all movies have to be “The Manchurian Candidate” or “Clockwork Orange.” In fact, sometimes it’s better (and more healthy) to have a bit of non-serious, light hearted fun. Such as watching “Batman and Robin.”

Or maybe not…

So, maybe Willem Dafoe’s overacting in this movie is actually one of the best parts of the movie. In fact, every scene I remember off-handedly from the movie has Dafoe in it. I certainly don’t remember either the names of the main characters or even what they look like. I don’t remember a single line of dialogue from the movie except for Willem Dafoe calling a bunch of gay guys “faggots” even as he lies in bed with them or scopes out dudes at the gay bar.

 

Bang bang you’re dead butthead.

700 words in and I’ve barely talked about the damn movie. There’s a reason for that: as I’ve alluded to throughout this article, I barely remember a thing about the movie. I know the two Irish-Catholic-whatever guys go ballistic and start killing a bunch of Russian mafia guys. There are a lot of violent set pieces, bad “I’m A Genius Too, You Know” Tarantino-style dialogue and bad, bad directing. I remember that the two Irish-Catholic-whatever guys being hailed as “Saints” by the media and Dafoe even coming to their side by the end of the movie.

I also remember finding most of the dialogue pretty painful to listen to (look, only Tarantino can Tarantino and most of the time even he can’t do that well) as it so obviously screamed “I’m so clever! I’m writing a movie! I’m Troy Duffy!” instead of screaming “Wow, believable, intelligent dialogue delivered by believable, intelligent people!” Plus, every character sounded the God damned same: like Troy Duffy.

Dude! Bra!

Also, the violent set pieces reveled in violence in a way that tends to piss of guys like Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. That didn’t bother me so much, being a little younger than those guys and having grown up in the “violence” generation. However, what DID bother me was the lack of purpose to the violence.

Look, violence is a powerful tool in a movie and it shouldn’t be used casually or as the main centerpiece of the movie. The violence here is so casual, so off-handed and handled in such a “hilarious” way that it’s hard to take seriously. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if the movie was some kind of parody of violent films or made a coherent statement on the nature of violence in our violent times.

But blah blah blah you know what? I’m sick of movies that do that. Every ultra violent movie made by half wit hacks tries to throw in a few jabs against violence to make it clear “look like, I don’t actually think like…these are the good guys! I don’t like violence…uh…look! Here’s a preacher who says ‘thou shall not kill’! Parody right?”

Wrong. Of course, I have to let Duffy off the hook with this one because he doesn’t go with the whole “violence is wrong/here’s some violence!” method. He goes the more honest “violence is cathartic/funny. Here’s some violence!” method. Fair enough, but I can’t handle the fact that he actually elevates his protagonists to the level of heroes.

You know, good ole “Whatshisface!” And “The Blonde One.” Here they are, heroically executing a man. Or whatever, I don’t know what’s going on here.

There isn’t much “ambivalence”in this movie: the two guys who kill the entire Russian mafia are the good guys. At least that’s how I remember the movie. Remember, I was really drunk at the time. But you don’t get that whole disgust, confusion and upset stomach you get from “Death Wish” such as the scene when Bronson comes home and pukes after he hits a man with a sock full of quarters. No, you get the celebratory “where’s-my-rocket-launcher?” attitude of “Death Wish 3” which, while hilarious, is also a bit philosophically repugnant.

Of course, that helps explain the movie’s rather anemic 17% at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a movie designed to be hated by critics because it has no heart, no soul, no philosophy beyond the “killing people is cool and vigilantism is the best” approach to film making. Note that 93% of the amateur reviewers liked the movie. Oy.

I do believe there is some hope for the world: the beleagured and endlessly delayed sequel, “Saints Day” was ravaged even by hardcore fans, receiving only 60% approval from the movie’s own fan base. It got a higher rating by critics though, earning a “much improved” 23%.

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