Less a proper action-thriller than a series of gratuitously violent setpieces strung together with only the sketchiest semblance of a plot, The Boondock Saints is clearly designed to appeal to heartless armchair sadists. Sean Patrick Flanery (Simply Irresistible) and Norman Reedus star as fresh-faced Irish brothers united by their deep religious faith as well as their proclivity for carefully orchestrated mass murder. After killing a pair of Russian mobsters in a characteristically realistic scene involving Flanery leaping off a tall building directly onto a confused thug's head hundreds of feet below, the brothers decide to execute all of Boston's criminals in a series of brutally effective massacres. Equally infuriated with and jealous of the brothers' flair for bloodshed is a flamboyantly gay FBI agent (Willem Dafoe, in an enjoyably demented performance) who can't seem to decide whether to arrest the brothers or join their crusade. As written and directed by newcomer Troy Duffy, The Boondock Saints is all style and no substance, a film so gleeful in its endorsement of vigilante justice that it almost veers (or ascends) into self-parody. Satire or self-parody would be vastly preferable to the film's unironic endorsement of outlaw justice, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything resembling irony or subversiveness in this exercise in lovingly rendered ultra-violence.
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