The Walking Dead is an immensely popular--and immensely addictive--television program. Sadly for viewers everywhere, the show has just entered into 2-month hiatus. Fortunately, the cast of The Walking Dead have some pretty interesting resumes that are certainly worth exploring. One worthy work is a film called The Boondock Saints, featuring Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) in one of his earliest film roles. Our Daryl may not be Irish, but it sure is fun to imagine that this is what he did before the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead won't be returning until February 9, 2014, but here's what Norman Reedus was up to in 1999.
The Boondock Saints (1999) is the story of Irish Catholic twin brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus, who receive what they believe to be a vision from God instructing them to "destroy all that which is evil." Taking this divine instruction very literally, Connor and Murphy resolve to clean the streets of Boston by hunting down the members of the criminal element who have managed to escape the reach of the law. Armed with pistols, silencers, and a handy length of rope, the brothers go on a vigilante killing spree that divides the city between adherence to the law and absolute justice.
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, and Willem Defoe, Boondock Saints has become a cult classic. Receiving an extremely limited theatrical release in 1999 due to the recent shooting at Columbine High School, it was not until the film was released on VHS and then on DVD that it became popular. Most people seem to either love it or hate it.
Despite the religious overtones, the film is far from preachy. While the protagonists genuinely believe that their killing spree has been ordained by a supreme being, enough characters point out that their logic is slightly skewed that viewers are clearly not expected to automatically accept the MacManus brothers' proclamation of divine mandate as legitimate. They believe in their mission from God; the audience is not necessarily expected to believe it as well.
Of course, Boondock Saints is not a cinematic masterpiece, and it's best to not try to think about the plot too much. Depending on your sense of humor, the Irish accents used by Flannery and Reedus are at times either hilarious or infuriating. Nevertheless, Defoe is delightfully over-the-top as FBI Agent Paul Smecker, and--accents aside--Flannery and Reedus have such an easy synchrony with one another that their portrayal of preternaturally close (albeit fraternal) twins is completely believable. The brothers' relationship is the heart of the film, and it adds an unexpected sweetness to a movie that mostly concerns itself with murder, vengeance, and a certain four-letter word.
The Boondock Saints is a rather divisive film. Is there gratuitous violence? Yes. Is there profanity? Absolutely. Was it robbed in the 1999 Oscar race? Not exactly. Still, it's an entertaining film that manages to overcome its flaws and become funny, exciting, and highly rewatchable. It is easy to see why Boondock Saints has become a cult classic, and the film is definitely worth the watch. At the very least, there's a certain scene involving a cat that should not be missed.
Unless you love cats. And hate laughter.