The Boondock Saints
|The Boondock Saints|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Troy Duffy|
|Produced by||Robert Fried
|Written by||Troy Duffy|
Sean Patrick Flanery
David Della Rocco
|Music by||Jeff Danna|
|Editing by||Bill DeRonde|
|Distributed by||Indican Pictures|
|Running time||108 minutes|
The Boondock Saints is a 1999 action film written and directed by Troy Duffy. The film stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as fraternal twins, Connor and Murphy McManus, who become vigilantes after killing two members of the Russian Mafia in self-defense. After both experience an epiphany, the brothers, together with their friend (David Della Rocco), set out to rid their home city of Boston, Massachusetts of crime and evil; all the while being pursued by FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe).
Duffy indicates that the screenplay was inspired by personal experience, while living in Los Angeles. Initially regarded as one of the hottest scripts in Hollywood, the movie had a troubled production and was finally given a limited theatrical release of only five theaters for one week, and was met with poor critical reviews; but the film has grossed about $50 million in domestic video sales and ultimately developed a large cult following. The ending credit sequence, which features the media asking the people of Boston, "Are the 'saints' good or evil?", was shot by Mark Brian Smith, co-director of Overnight, a documentary film about the making of The Boondock Saints, and Troy Duffy himself.
This film opens with mass being held in a Boston Catholic church, where Irish American fraternal twin brothers Connor McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus) pray while a sermon is read, mentioning Kitty Genovese, a real-life crime victim brutally murdered while her neighbors watched without intervening. As the priest begins his homily, the brothers approach the altar and kiss the feet of a crucifix. They depart as the priest reminds the congregation that they should fear not just evil but also the "indifference of good men". The brothers conclude that the priest finally understands, Connor stating, "I do believe the Monsignor's finally got the point..." and Murphy replying, "Aye".
Connor and Murphy work at a local meatpacking plant. While celebrating St. Patrick's Day in a neighborhood bar, three Russian "soldiers", led by Ivan Checkov, enter and order everyone to leave, as their organization has decided to evict the pub. In the ensuing bar brawl, Connor, Murphy, and the patrons publicly humiliate the mobsters, who the next day ambush the brothers in their home. As Murphy is dragged into a nearby alley to be executed, Connor escapes to the roof and drops a toilet, along with himself, off the roof and onto the mobsters, killing them and rescuing Murphy.
The Russian mob's involvement summons FBI agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) to the murder case, and he surmises that the mobsters' death was not a professional hit but self-defense. As the police begin a manhunt for the killers, Connor and Murphy arrive at the police station to clear their names. During the initial interrogation, the brothers impress Smecker with their multilingualism (including Gaelic, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, and German) while recalling the specifics of the barfight and subsequent self-defense the next morning. Smecker believes their story and allows them to stay overnight in a holding cell to evade the press. That night, Connor and Murphy receive a vision from God telling them to destroy all that is evil so that which is good may flourish.
The brothers resolve to rid Boston of "evil men" with the help of their friend and former mob package boy David "The Funnyman" Della Rocco (David Della Rocco). The brothers trade in the weapons and valuables stolen from the mobsters' bodies for their own, and use Connor's knowledge of Russian to locate a meeting between Russian syndicate bosses at a local hotel. Crashing into the room through an overhead air duct, the brothers draw their guns and fire, killing the 8 underbosses. Forcing the leader, Yuri 'Big Man' Petrova (Victor Pedtrchenko) to his knees, the brothers recite a short prayer:
"And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee And teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."
The two then execute him, placing pennies over his eye sockets, in which both of his eyes were shot out. While the brothers are preparing to leave the hotel, they are surprised to find Rocco dressed as a bellboy knocking at the door with a tray of food. They decided "to fuck with him" and pull him into the hotel, concealing their identity with masks, and threaten to execute him. Eventually they reveal their identity to Rocco, who decides to join the brothers in their mission. Once again, Agent Smecker is brought to the front of the murder case. The fact that all the killings involved the Russian Mob leads Smecker to the theory that the executions were the result of the feud between the Russian and Italian mobs.
The following day, the brothers try to convince Rocco that he was sold out by Italian mob boss Papa Joe Yakavetta (Carlo Rota), because he was sent to the hotel with a six-shooter .38 revolver despite the fact there were nine mobsters in the hotel room. Rocco soon realizes this after killing two of Yakavetta's men at a deli later on, who hint to Rocco that he really was sold out. In retaliation, Rocco and the brothers hunt down and kill Vincenzo Lipazzi (Ron Jeremy), underboss of the Yakavetta crime family at a local strip club. Also killed at the Strip Club are two street criminals with no connection to organized crime (thus disproving Smecker's mob war theory). The three vigilantes proceed on a series of increasingly violent missions, cleansing the city of vicious criminals and others who have eluded justice. Papa Joe, believing that the mob killings are an act of revenge from Rocco for setting him up to be killed, contracts the infamous contract killer Il Duce (Billy Connolly), to deal with the vengeful package boy.
Rocco insist that he and the brothers murder a hitman that Rocco had briefly worked with. According to Rocco, the man was responsible for murdering an entire family and had burnt their remains in a dumpster. They head to the hitman's house and murder all of his men. After a hand-to-hand fight, Rocco beats the hitman to death with a cue ball. As they leave the hitman's house through the front door, the trio is ambushed by Il Duce, and in the resulting shootout the trio manage to chase Il Duce away. Rocco's finger is shot off and each of the brothers receive serious, but not mortal, gunshot wounds which they cauterize with a hot iron.
Hours later at the crime scene, Smecker discovers the finger and secretly takes it to conduct his own investigation. Discovering that it belongs to Rocco, whom he previously met, Smecker begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the various murders. His sympathy for the brothers conflicting with his professional desire to bring them to justice, Smecker (a flamboyant homosexual) goes on a drinking binge at a gay bar before seeking advice from a nearby Catholic church. Bemoaning the futility of the courts that fail to punish evil men and his uncertainty with the MacManus brothers' actions in a confessional, Smecker is oblivious to the fact that Rocco, who has tracked Smecker to the church, is forcefully directing the priest's responses to preserve the Boondock Saints' identities. Connor sees Rocco follow the priest into the confessional and, disgusted with the blasphemy, pulls Rocco's head through the other confessional at gun point. In whispered tones, Rocco tries to explain to Connor the circumstance while still holding his gun to the priest's head. Smecker is advised, reluctantly by the priest, that the Saints are acting as messengers from God and that "the laws of God are greater than the laws of man." Inspired by the advice, Smecker decides to help the brothers.
The McManus brothers and Rocco infiltrate the Yakavetta headquarters to finish off the family, but are captured by Papa Joe and his henchmen who recently arrived to protect Papa Joe from such an attack. Papa Joe executes Rocco to intimidate the brothers. The brothers manage to free themselves and tend to Rocco while Smecker, disguised as a female prostitute, distracts the other mobsters. Smecker kills the remaining mobsters only to be knocked unconscious by Il Duce who mistakes Smecker for a woman. As the brothers say their family prayer over Rocco, Il Duce arrives and sneaks up behind them.
As he hears them recite the family prayer, and upon seeing that the man he was hired to kill (Rocco) is dead, he lowers his weapons and joins them. It becomes apparent that Il Duce is their long-lost father, as the brothers had previously refused to teach Rocco the prayer because it is only passed down in their family. He then joins them in their mission to rid the city of evildoers.
Three months later Papa Joe is sent to trial, and though there seems to be enough evidence to convict him, the reporters on scene anticipate his acquittal due to his Gotti-esque charisma. The trial is forcibly interrupted when the two brothers and Il Duce, aided by Agent Smecker and several police officers, infiltrate and lock down the courtroom. The three then publicly declare their mission to destroy evil and recite their prayer one last time, killing Papa Joe with several bullets (and a shotgun blast) to the back of the head. The media dubs the three "Saints", and the movie ends with various "man-on-the-street" interviews in which various Boston citizens reflect on the question "Are the Saints ultimately good, or evil?"
- Willem Dafoe as FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker, a homosexual and brilliant but emotionally troubled FBI agent assigned to the gang murders linked to the McManus brothers. He also begins to sympathize with the McManus work and chooses to help them.
- Sean Patrick Flanery as Connor McManus, one-half of the MacManus brothers. He has a tattoo on his left hand that reads "Veritas" ("truth" in Latin). He is more sensible and rational than his brother, and often tries to carefully plan out their missions. However, he usually and foolishly bases his plans off plans used by classic action movies; Connor frequently references John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Charles Bronson.
- Norman Reedus as Murphy McManus, the other half of the MacManus brothers. He has a tattoo on his right hand that reads "Aequitas" ("justice" in Latin). He seems to be the more emotional and hot-headed of the two. However, Murphy is usually shown to be exasperated by Connor's second hand cliche movie plans.
- David Della Rocco as Rocco "The Funny Man", a former henchman of the Yakavetta clan until Papa Joe set him up to be killed, and a loyal friend of the McManus brothers.
- Billy Connolly as Noah McManus/Il Duce ("The Duke"), father of Connor and Murphy who is released from prison by Yakavetta to confront the brothers and Rocco.
- Bob Marley as Detective Greenly, a Boston Police Department detective assigned to the gang murders.
- David Ferry as Detective Dolly, a detective partnered with Greenly and Duffy.
- Brian Mahoney as Detective Duffy, a detective partnered with Greenly and Dolly.
- Carlo Rota as Don Giuseppe "Papa Joe" Yakavetta, leader of a powerful mafia in Boston.
- Ron Jeremy as Vincenzo Lapazzi, Yakavetta's right-hand man.
- Gerard Parkes as Doc, the owner of an Irish-themed pub who has Tourette syndrome.
- Sergio Di Zio one of the men in the Deli that knew about Rocco's set-up
Troy Duffy's screenplay was inspired by his disgust at seeing a drug dealer taking money from a corpse across the hall from his apartment. Duffy, who was working as a bartender and bouncer, had never written a screenplay before.
Duffy completed the screenplay in fall of 1996 and passed it to a producer's assistant at New Line Cinema to be read by a senior executive. The screenplay changed hands through multiple studios and Duffy was approached by multiple producers for the rights. In March 1997, he was contracted by Paramount Pictures for $500,000, and later in the month, Miramax Films won a bidding war to buy The Boondock Saints. The studio offered $450,000 to Duffy to write and direct the film. The documentary Overnight, which chronicled Duffy's "rags-to-riches-to-rags" story, showed that the script was worth $300,000, and the film itself was originally given a $15 million budget by Miramax's Harvey Weinstein. Duffy's band The Brood would do the soundtrack, and as a bonus, Miramax offered to buy and throw in co-ownership of J. Sloan's, where Duffy worked. Overnight showed that Duffy frequently exhibited abrasive behavior, causing tension for many people involved in the project. Filming of The Boondock Saints was scheduled for the coming autumn in Boston.
Duffy sought to cast Stephen Dorff and Mark Wahlberg as the brothers, though Wahlberg passed for Boogie Nights. The director also wanted to cast Billy Connolly and Kenneth Branagh in the film, with Branagh playing the FBI agent. Duffy also expressed interest in casting Brendan Fraser, Nicky Katt, and Ewan McGregor, with 2 of them as the brothers, but no decisions were finalized. The director later sought Patrick Swayze to play the FBI agent, but Miramax preferred Sylvester Stallone (with whom the studio had an existing relationship), Bill Murray or Mike Myers. Before pre-production work was supposed to begin in Boston in December 1997, Miramax pulled out of the project. Producer Lloyd Segan said that the project had stalled because of casting and location problems. While Duffy was able to keep the writer's fee of $300,000, the studio required the reimbursement of the $150,000 director's fee and the $700,000 advance to develop the project.
The independent studio Franchise Pictures sought to finance the project once other elements were in place. Duffy approached Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus to play the brothers, and Willem Dafoe to play the FBI agent. Having found someone to back the film, filming began in Toronto, with the final scenes being filmed in Boston. The name of Duffy's band The Brood was changed to The Boondock Saints, following the movie's release. The film featured two songs from the band: "Holy Fool", which played during Rocco's tavern shootout, and "Pipes", which played during the credits.
The Boondock Saints saw very limited theatrical release, with its distributor showing the film in 1999 on only five screens in the United States for a duration of a week. However, the original unrated version of the film was later re-released in theaters on May 22, 2006. Duffy later funded screenings of the film with help from Blockbuster Video. "Blockbuster saved us [...] They agreed to take it on exclusively, and from there the rest is history." According to Troy Duffy on his audio commentary of the film on DVD, the film's distributor allowed the limited screening in the United States because of the then-recent Columbine High School shooting. The film was shown on major foreign screens (most notably in Japan) with success. Blockbuster released The Boondock Saints as a "Blockbuster Exclusive", a collection of independent direct-to-video films. The Boondock Saints gained a following mostly thanks to word of mouth publicity and was a bestseller when released on DVD. Despite its success, Troy Duffy never saw any of the profits from DVD distribution, having signed away the DVD rights in his contract with Indican.
Home media 
The Boondock Saints has been released numerous times on DVD, including an import on March 13, 2001 and an uncut Japanese release published by Toshiba Entertainment, whose special features include anamorphic widescreen, audio commentary, trailers, and interviews with the Japanese media. On May 23, 2006 The Boondock Saints Collector's Edition was published and released by 20th Century Fox on DVD, as well as UMD for the PlayStation Portable. The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, commentary by Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy, deleted scenes and outtakes. It also featured the film's trailer, cast and crew filmographies, and a printable script of the film. 20th Century Fox and Duffy showed an interest in doing a new audio commentary for the special release, but he was unable to because of unresolved legal issues.
A Blu-ray Disc edition containing both the theatrical and unrated directors cuts was released on February 10, 2009.
The film received generally negative reviews from critics; critics polled on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 20% "Rotten", with the site's consensus called the film, "A juvenile, ugly movie that represents the worst tendencies of directors channeling Tarantino." However, users gave the film a score of 93. Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club described the film, in his review of the DVD, as "less a proper action-thriller" than "a series of gratuitously violent setpieces strung together with only the sketchiest semblance of a plot". Rabin went on to describe the film as "all style and no substance, a film so gleeful in its endorsement of vigilante justice that it almost veers (or ascends) into self-parody." Robert Koehler of Variety described the film in his review as "A belated entry in the hipster crime movie movement that began with Reservoir Dogs, Troy Duffy's "Boondock Saints" mixes blood and Catholic-tinged vigilante justice in excessive portions for sometimes wacky and always brutal effect. [The film is] more interested in finding fresh ways to stage execution scenes than in finding meaning behind the human urge for self-appointed righting of wrongs."
Koehler also described Flanery and Reedus as "curiously stolid and blank", while praising supporting actors Connolly, Dafoe, and Rota for making the most of their screen time. Koehler also praised the tech personnel, "This uneven exercise in pacing and cutting is abetted by an eclectic score by Jeff Danna and whiz lensing by Adam Kane. Other tech credits fire bull's-eyes."
Film critics have taken note of the film's extreme violence and "slow-motion bloodletting".
The documentary film, Overnight, was released in 2003, following the story of Troy Duffy during his negotiations with Miramax over The Boondock Saints script. Duffy's abrasive behavior strained his relationships with friends and people in the film industry and ultimately led to Miramax pulling out of the project, leaving the film to be made by another studio at half the originally proposed budget.
In an October 27 [year missing] article, director Duffy and actor Connolly mention details regarding a possible third film. They maintained that "it is slowly in the works and is still just an idea". Duffy insists that he wants to get a few more of his films done before returning to the Boondock Saints. Duffy also added that the proposed working title for the third film would be called "Boondock Saints III: Saints Preserve Us". Although on September 14, 2012, Reedus stated there was going to be no Boondock Saints III.
Again, on February 26, 2013, Troy Duffy stated that he was getting together with Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery to resume talks about Boondock Saints 3, in hopes that they could make the film a reality for fans.
Comic book 
A two-part comic book story, serving as a companion to the movie sequel, was released in May 2010. The series is written by Troy Duffy, produced by Innfusion Inc. and released through 12 Gauge Comics. The Book focuses on a more in depth version of Il Duce's back story as well as telling the story of the brothers during a hit they performed that is not featured in the film. It was paired with a mini book that was featured on the official Boondock Saints website that told a mini-story that takes place before the strip club scene from the first film. These will eventually be released in one single graphic novel. Another story is currently being proposed that would show the brothers' time in Hoag Prison after the events of All Saints Day.
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