Written by Mary K. Williams
”…But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”
With the words of their parish priest following them out to the Boston streets on a crisp Saint Patrick’s Day morning, Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus begin their day. These lads, who enter the story as butchers in a meat packing plant, become accidental vigilantes, and ultimately – (questionable) heroes.
The Boondock Saints, originally released in 1999, has been given a new look in a Blu-ray format. But was the do-over necessary? When one thinks of these visual tech advancements: hi-def, Blu-ray, or 3-D, they seem most appropriate in certain kinds of films, at least initially. Your Avatars, Matrixes, Toy-Stories, basically the categories of, sci-fi, graphic novel, or animated films. Will it be necessary for a Judd Apatow flick to receive the same treatment? Woody Allen? Roman Polanski? The Coens? The Farrellys?
Of course, it’s no crime to pretty-up an established work. But there’s a point where these treatments feel like gouging, especially the current in-theater practice of releasing lots more films in 3-D with no standard option available, therefore forcing the audience to pay the higher exorbitant price to see a first-run movie. And for at-home viewing, the televisions themselves have advanced greatly in the last few years, and come down in price. So, the question is, are all these re-mastering efforts needed? But at the risk of extending this wee rant on the topic, lets’ move on to the look of the Saints.
This Blu-ray edition does not differ dramatically from the original except for one thing. It shows a near-saturation of red tint. While this could be symbolic of blood, passion, and vengeance, the skin tones become too ruddy, and the effect overall serves no purpose except for making the blues and greens pop a bit more. The actual scene-by-scene definition seems no more enhanced than standard DVD and I found the color more pleasing in the original. The “Armageddon firefight” couldn’t get much more improved than it already looked in 1999.
The two-disc set contains one digital copy, and one Blu-ray. The Blu-ray includes a theatrical version with audio commentaries by Troy Duffy and Billy Connelly. There are also the usual outtakes and deleted scenes, along with a director’s cut version.
But the story, as gloriously bloody and outrageous as ever, remains the same. Willem Dafoe owns his role of FBI agent Paul Smecker. He plays the gay detective as cheeky and flamboyant. Smecker both brilliant and conflicted, begins to identify with the brothers’ crusade as he follows the clues and realizes that they are behind the recent spate of murdered mobsters.
Billy Connolly doesn’t say much, but as Il Duce, a fearsome mob assassin and fixer, he’s a far, far cry from Billy MacGregor in TV’s Head of the Class, and it’s a nice casting choice. Carlo Rota, whom most will remember as Morris O’Brian from 24 plays a fine mob boss. And although most of the movie was filmed in Toronto, Duffy still found an authentic Boston accent in Jimmy Tingle’s version of a confessional priest.
The Boondocks Saints has its holes and flaws. Why did the brothers come up on the alter during Mass with seemingly full clergy sanction, before they became the Saints? Was Rocco’s girlfriend really necessary? And although the Kitty Genovese sermon was inspiring, it was also incorrect. (She was killed at night, not “in broad daylight”) Still, it’s a movie worth seeing; you just might not need the extra enhancements.