Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh

A classic illustration of a movie whose production history is more interesting than it is. Self-taught, first-time writer/director Troy Duffy, a 26-year-old New Hampshire native, snagged a sweet one with Miramax on the basis of his virtriolic "sick

fantasy" (his words) script, inspired by one glimpse too many of L.A. lowlife. The story was that not only would Duffy direct the picture on location in Boston, but his band would do the music and Miramax would buy the bar where he'd been working and give Duffy partial ownership. Next thing

you know, Patrick Swayze and Stephen Dorff were cast and Paramount was stepping in with a tempting offer for Duffy's next two projects. Then the Miramax deal collapsed, leaving Duffy to shoot in Toronto with indie financing; slated for theatrical release, the finished film slipped into

video stores with less fanfare than some degenerate POLTERGEIST sequel. What a dramatic arc! Now, to the movie: Boston-based, working-class, Irish Catholic brothers Connor and Murphy McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus), who mysteriously speak five languages and sport "veritas" and

"aequitas" ("truth" and "justice") tattoos on their hands, kill a pair of Russian mafiosi in self-defense and under utterly bizarre circumstances. The local cops are baffled by the crime scene, but gay, New York-based FBI agent Smecker (Willem Dafoe, in one of the worst performances of his

career) waltzes in, figures out what must have happened and fingers Connor and Murphy. The siblings, meanwhile, decide they've been called by God to wash the scum off the streets and embark on an increasingly baroque, vigilante killing spree. Smecker, always one step behind, begins to wonder

whether he should just let them take out the bad guys. Duffy's models are clearly snarky, ultraviolent Tarantino-esque crime pictures, but this movie's cleverness is never quite on a par with its bloodlust.