The debate is not about the movie exactly, but more on the concept of the movie. You need not have seen the movie. However, if you have not I highly recommend this movie. It is by far one of the best action movies, in my opinion. Although, I must caution that it can be violent for some and it has a very high f-word meter.
Conner and Murphy MacManus are two ordinary ordinary working class Irish Catholic brothers. One day to protect a bar owner from being intimidated by gangs, they get into a brawl with Russian mobsters. The Russian mobsters later return to kill them, but they end up killing the mobsters in self defense. They are released by FBI Agent Paul Smecker because their murder was innocent self defense. However, after that they have a vision. They recollect a sermon at mass, where the preacher describes that not doing anything to stop evil is as sinful as being evil itself. They decide to be vigilantes and go on a killing spree,murdering mob bosses, drug dealers, pimps and violent criminals.
They get dubbed the Boondock Saints.
The film ends with an opinion poll of general public. Some people say no comments. To some people the Boondock Saints are heroes. They are almost angelic, protecting the people by killing the bad guys and criminals in society. To others the Boondock Saints are villains. They are devilish, evil people who commit crime by taking the law into their own hands.
This is vigilante justice. Where a person chooses to illegally punish those whom they see as criminals.
The question to ponder is
Are people like the Boondock Saints heroes or villains? Is killing villains and criminals heroic? What is the line between moral righteousness and legal righteousness? Is there a fine line between criminal and hero?
Do you support people who take the law into their own hands? If you do not, what if the law does not function, or the law is corrupted? What if the law is helpless and the loopholes let criminals go free? If you do, how do you maintain order, how do you draw lines so that there is no chaos? On what basis do we trust renegades who take the law in their own hand, how do we know their perceptions are not wrong?
Taking into real life situations, rape victims kill their rapists, people kill someone who killed their loved ones. This happens every now and then. Maybe even petty revenge when someone wrongs you like cons you out of money etc. Is it right to get back at them. This is delving into eye for an eye justice area too. Vigilante justices like neighborhood watch groups and parent watch committed have been known to harass registered sex offenders, former criminals etc. Do citizens have a right to violate a person's rights simply because they have committed a crime? Can criminals have a right to freedom and privacy?
Speaking religiously, Boondock Saints draws a lot of inspiration from Catholicism. Every person they kill they clean up with a prayer, essentially attributing their kills in the name of God. Their vigilante justice was inspired by sermon and a holy vision of sorts. Can people such as the Boondock Saints be religiously justified? How should religion deal with such things that people take on in the name of religion? What is the line between vigilante justice and terrorism? How would you react to someone using your religion to act as vigilantes?
Moving back into more hypothetical situations, most superheroes like Superman, Spiderman etc are vigilantes. While some work in partnership with the law we have heroes like Lone Ranger, Zorro, Batman who often work outside the law or take the law in their own hands. In this sense are superheroes still role models? If you support superheroes and not the Boondock Saints, what is the reason for the disconnect? Then people like Robin Hood who steal from rich to give to the poor or V who encourages violent rebellion against authority - their basic operation is highly criminal - why do we perceive them as heroes.
Well a lot to think about. I'm not yet decided. So I will add thoughts as debate goes on.