Films are not always defined by their career on the big screen or the box office numbers they generate. Just last year, The Avengers broke box office records, generating over $1.5 billion worldwide (plus millions more with DVD and Blu-ray sales), yet after all this success, the film was rewarded with one lonely Oscar nomination. On the other end of the spectrum, Troy Duffy’s The Boondock Saints experienced trouble from the get go, stemming from casting problems, unknown location shoots, and its production company ultimately pulling out. But through its turmoil, the film was finally put onto the big screen – for one week, earning $30,000.

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The Boondock Saints (1999)

Still, this film refused to die. Having been tossed out by a major studio and bashed by critics, The Boondock Saints found sanctuary in you, the viewer. Video sales went through the roof grossing around $50 million, therefore establishing the cult-following this film undoubtably deserves. This film gives a special nod to those dismayed by a bad review or pulling their hair out over a box office “failure.” The Boondock Saint‘s type of success is a testament to the purest art form; it connects to the viewer on an emotional level.

Two brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are reborn into vigilantes after they kill a pair of Russian thugs in self-defense. With the help of a friend formally part of the Italian mob, they attempt to rid the city of all crime, killing every guilty soul on their path. All the while, an FBI agent (Willem Dafoe) tries to track them down, struggling to keep his conscious in check from the notion of good vs. evil.

The idea of lawfulness comes into question, as the viewer reflects on the idea of “the greater good.” Just like Ocean’s Eleven or say any Tarantino film, the audience roots for those technically breaking the law. The underlying concept being that these people breaking the law are bringing down worse people breaking the law. Yet, the McManus brothers bring a keen sense of innocence to their acts of violence. They are dignified and diligent when the former is rarely present and the latter is crucially needed. These qualities ultimately evoke the audience’s intrigue, as they long for a similar prideful perseverance.

Duffy’s writing is often witty, with his own critique on the society he lives in. His characters seem to be an extension of his desire for what he wants this society to become. Duffy states he only brought to life what everyone is already thinking, but his voice and writing style in The Boondock Saints uphold his individualism, as he leads us from start to finish the only way Troy Duffy can.

The Boondock Saints (1999) directed by Troy Duffy

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