The Boondock Saints 20th Anniversary (Blu-ray)

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.

To celebrate its 10 year anniversary, Fox has released the “Truth and Justice” edition of The Boondock Saints, the beloved, cult actioner. What’s so truthy and justicey about this disc? One new bonus feature.

Two brothers from Boston (Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) have had enough. With the Mafia ever-present and the Russian mob moving into their neighborhood, the two have an epiphany: become vigilantes and murder the hell out of ever gangster they can find.

As they undertake their Holy missions, an eccentric FBI Agent (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man) is right behind them, piecing together crimes scenes, swaying to opera music in his head and making out with Mafia soldiers while in drag.

I must have been the only bipedal organism on the planet to not have seen The Boondock Saints. I caught pieces of it here and there, but never sat down to soak in the entire experience like it was meant to be shared: uninterrupted and unrated. You get two versions of the film on this disc, the theatrical and unrated, and regardless of the one you choose you can be assured of one thing: you’re in for a unique experience.

Which is my diplomatic way of saying I don’t quite get the pseudo-religious fervor over this movie.

Maybe I’m missing something. I fully acknowledge that director Troy Duffy has created an energetic, darkly humorous action fable that does a lot of cool and different things and boasts two charismatic leads and a ridiculous performance from Willem Dafoe. There were many moments where I asked myself “Did that just happen?” and most of them involved Dafoe parading around in women’s clothes. Look, the guy is an iconic actor but he’s not a picture of male handsomeness, and when you get him crossdressing the aesthetic result has the capacity to melt faces as if you were exposed to the opening of the Ark of the Covenant; how does a horny Mafia stooge find that any way attractive?!

But…I failed to escape the lingering feeling that everyone involved here felt they were a mite too cool for school. Like in the back of their minds, they were already envisioning how the quirkiness and over-the-top violence and toilets getting dropped on dudes’ heads would lead to killer cult status. The performances were manic and over-the-top, the action was frantic and unrealistic and the atmosphere, which blended dark humor and brutality, struck me as contrived. I liked the film, but in the end thought it was too proud of itself for being hipper than anything else, and it fell short of worshipful status.

Now why should you spend money on this new edition? If you’re a rabid admirer of the film it’s to complete your collection, but you should be warned: the only new thing here is a retrospective featuring the three main actors (minus Dafoe) reminiscing about the film. It’s a nice segment, joined by extras recycled from previous releases: commentary tracks from Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy, deleted scenes and outtakes. The 2.35:1, 1080p (AVC-encoded) transfer is decent, but not a world-beater. Details get some added zing thanks to the enhanced resolution and the boatloads of gore pop nicely enough. It is apparently the same transfer from the 2009 release, so don’t expect much different if you already own that disc. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is aggressive and loud, perfect for the film’s bombast.

I fully expect to be e-pilloried, but The Boondock Saints just didn’t blow my skirt up.


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