-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
copyright © 2001 - 2006 VideoVista
Overnight / The Boondock Saints|
cast: Troy Duffy, Taylor Duffy, Gordon Clark and Jim Crabbe
directors: Mark Brian Smith, Tony Montana
90 / 110 minutes (15) 1999 / 2003
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
In the mid-1990s, Troy Duffy was handed the dream ticket... While he was a bartender
and bouncer, Duffy's first script - The Boondock Saints - was bought by Harvey
Weinstein, the head of Miramax. Weinstein bought Duffy the bar he worked in and signed
him up to direct the film and, along with his band, provide the score. The Boondock
Saints was never released at the cinema.
Overnight is the story of what happened and specifically, the story of how fame
affected one man. Montana and Smith followed Duffy for eight years, filming everything
from the initial flush of success to the final collapse of his relationship with band
and studio alike. The result is involving, tragic and at times genuinely sinister.
Simply put, Duffy is a monster. As the film continues we see him evolve from an amiable,
coherent blue-collar writer and musician into a man who embodies his own hype. In the
space of 90 minutes he goes from swearing undying loyalty to his band to calmly informing
them that his film work will always come first. There's a simmering undercurrent of
jealousy too, as Troy continually snipes at younger brother Taylor, who he claims can't
stand his fame.
All this pales in comparison to the making of the film itself. From screaming matches
with the Miramax accountant to arguments with the man himself Duffy never fails to put
a nose out of joint. Loud, boorish and belligerent he becomes a genuinely intimidating
presence at times, especially in a sequence where he calmly and coldly tells the group
and filmmakers exactly how much they owe him. The tension in the room is palpable and
for the first time it becomes clear that Duffy is a genuinely unstable individual.
Matters come to a head when Weinstein blacklists the film as a result of Duffy's behaviour
and, in a fascinating moment where fiction and reality seem to meet, Duffy and his
associate producer appear to have an attempt made on their lives. With the production
company in tatters and the band's debut album selling 690 copies nationwide in six months,
Duffy and friends return to their lives. The film closes on scenes of them at work and
Duffy, filmed from a distance, apparently talking to himself outside a bar.
Overnight is a fascinating, blackly funny and ultimately desperately sad documentary.
It's a cautionary tale of what happens to you when everything you ever dreamed of is
handed to you on a plate, and the horrible effect this can have. As the quotation that
closes the film states; success doesn't change you, it brings out who you really are.
Included as an extra with the documentary, The Boondock Saints itself is a fascinating
study not only in films of the time, but in Duffy's state of mind. Following two brothers
(Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) who become local celebrities after saving their
bar from Russian mobsters, the film positively screams mid-1990s. It has the same 'feel'
that The Usual Suspects,
Se7en and Tarantino's
films have; that sense of urban bleakness that's so real it becomes unreal.
Becoming convinced that they've been chosen as agents of God put on Earth to kill wrongdoers,
the brothers stock up on weapons and begin a two-man crusade. However as their fame grows,
the FBI agent on their case is torn between helping them or hindering them, and the local
mobsters break out a terrifying hitman to solve their problem forever.
It's very rare to review a film where almost nothing works. From the opening, portentous
sequence of the brothers kissing the feet of a statue during Holy Mass to the closing
montage, The Boondock Saints is a film that knows what it wants to achieve but
never quite achieves it. The basic idea, of these two slightly crumpled avengers is
excellent but almost nothing in its execution does it justice.
Duffy throws plot twists in for no reason other to serve individual scenes, having the
brothers be language experts so they can understand Russian one minute and revealing
the identity of hitman Il Duce (played by Billy Connolly and one of the few highpoints)
the next. To make matters worse, there's no real development of the plot past what's
described here. Where Tarantino's films and their ilk used violence and bad language
to tell a story, Duffy's Boondock Saints has almost no story to tell. What little
there is glorifies the violence the brothers dish out and does so in a uniquely comicbook
way, treating the underworld like a videogame where you simply have to kill the next
boss to progress.
The film's single moment comes from Willem Defoe as the FBI agent assigned to the case.
Given the utterly thankless task of explaining the plot, Defoe spends most of the film
walking around the brothers' crime scenes figuring what they did. The final time this
gimmick is used, he's actually present in the flashback, participating in the action
in a way that's both elegant and interesting. However, not even this can last, and not
20 minutes later, Defoe is dressed as a woman (because, his character being gay, clearly
he likes that sort of thing), to break the brothers out of captivity.
Violent, rampantly chauvinistic, and just plain dull, The Boondock Saints is
a near perfect guide to what not to do when producing a crime thriller. It makes fascinating
watching when viewed with Overnight but on it's own is a waste of time. However,
as I write this it seems that the story is not yet over. 'Boondock 2: The Second Coming'
is listed as in production on the Internet Movie Database with Duffy and brother
Taylor writing and the cast returning. Time will tell whether Duffy has learnt from his