"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."
— Connor and Murphy McManus, delivering the family prayer before executing someone.
The Boondock Saints is an independent film directed by Troy Duffy in 1999 about two Irish Catholic brothers from South Boston, Connor and Murphy McManus (played by Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus), who become vigilantes on a "Mission from God" after they are almost killed by Russian mobsters following a barroom brawl on St. Patrick's Day.The brothers kill the mobsters and then turn themselves in to the police, though they are quickly released on their self-defense plea. They learn the location of the syndicate's leaders, then kill them all. They are quickly joined by their best friend David Della Rocco (played by an actor who shares the name), a package boy for the local Italian mafia, who enlists their help in taking down his former syndicate after he is sold out by his bosses Papa Joe and Vincenzo.FBI Agent Paul Smecker (played by Willem Dafoe) is on the case of the vigilantes, and as the bad guy body count continues to rise and the brothers become local heroes, Smecker has to decide whether he wants to catch the killers or join them.Everything comes to a head when the Italians, tired of being picked off like flies, call in the mysterious hitman Il Duce (played by comedian Billy Connolly in one of his rare dramatic roles) to kill Rocco, who they believe is responsible for the killings. When the three Saints and the Duke collide, all hell quickly breaks loose; and when it is finally learned just who Il Duce is, the stage is set for a final reckoning that will bring the South Boston mob to its knees.The Boondock Saints ran for all of a week in only a few theaters because no major distributor would touch the film after Duffy's falling out with his initial executive producer Harvey Weinstein. (The recent crackdown on violent action and horror movies and media in general following the school shooting at Columbine High School earlier that year didn't help things either.) But when it was released several years later on FOX DVD, the movie became a massivecult success. Fans compare the film to Quentin Tarantino's classics Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and Robert Rodriguez's Desperado. A sequel called The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day was rumored for years (the first film ends on one hell of a cliffhanger) and was finally released on October 30, 2009.The film Overnight details Troy Duffy's inflation of ego during the making of the film. He kinda went off the rails, a bit. While he has tried to apologize for his past behavior, if you watch the doc you'll get a better idea of why we had to wait ten years for the sequel.It is especially popular for St. Paddy's Day drinking games, where if you sip every time someone curses, you're hammered by 30 minutes in. Because of this, some people have never seen the whole movie, nor seen it sober.Has a Character Sheet that is in desperate need of more love.Not to be confused with The Boondocks.
From the end of the first movie: "Never shall innocent blood be shed, yet the blood of the wicked shall flow like a river. The three shall spread their blackened wings and be the vengeful, striking hammer of God."
Badass Grandpa: Il Duce. Turns out to be the Saints' daddy. Technically, he isn't a grandpa though.
Badass Longcoat: Il Duce and Rocco. The McManus twins are BadassPeacoats; which, considering Boston in March, is a lot more practical. Detective Eunice Bloom in the sequel imagines herself as a Gun Twirling cowgirl wearing a duster during one of her summations of the Saints' hits.
BromanceOn The Set: Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus remained friends throughout the eight-year gap between movies. This is especially obvious in interviews, where Norman is often the subject of much fraternal ribbing.
Butt Monkey: Greenly and, to a lesser extent, Dolly and Duffy. Rocco and Romeo have their moments too.
California Doubling: Both films are set in Boston, but apart from the flyover establishing shots, were filmed in Toronto. The CN Tower and Toronto Dominion bank locations can be seen in various shots.
Catch Phrase: The McManus family prayer, as well as Greenly's "Thanks for coming out!"
Chekhov's Gun: While gearing up, the brothers mock each other for getting some rope and a large bowie knife, just in case. Both items end up getting used during the hotel scene, the knife while they are carrying out the execution of the Sick Mob Man and killing one of Yakavetta's men after they get free. The rope even makes a reappearance in the second movie.
In the first movie, Rocco returns in a panic after the Lakeview Restaurant shooting, telling the brothers to "Pack your shit!" so that the three of them could flee. One of the items Rocco packs (after brandishing it at Connor while shouting) is the iron that they later use to cauterize their wounds.
When Rocco asks the brothers to teach him the prayer that they always use when executing mob dudes, Connor refuses, stating that it's a family prayer, "my father's father before him, so that's our shit". This sets up the biggest reveal of the movie, where Il Duce walks in on the brothers saying the family prayer over the fallen Rocco and finishes the prayer himself.
Christianity Is Catholic: Justified, in that almost all of the characters who are shown to be religious are Irish, Italian, or Mexican.
Completely Different Title: In Spanish, the movie is known as Los Santos del Infierno, or "The Saints of Hell". In German, it's "Der Blutige Pfad Gottes", meaning "The Bloody Path of God".
Development Hell: The second film took ten years to make due to a lack of funding and Troy Duffy's ego. The third film, thus far, seems to be in the same position. Duffy has said if negotiations go through, the story may be continued in a TV series, but the progress seems to be going slowly.
Due to the Dead: Played straight for the most part, particularly with the Saints' victims.
Hilariously averted in the sequel when the Saints visit Rocco's grave and see that they used his mugshot for his memorial.
Fast Roping: Lampshaded by Connor and ends up being accidentally invoked by the Saints. In the sequel they play it straight... in an over-the-top way.
In the first film, Murphy needs to ask Connor a possibly incriminating question in front of Agent Smecker, so he does so in Irish Gaelic.
Then, after Smecker's done with their interview, Smecker asks if they know any other languages apart from Russian, since part of their story included taunting a Mafiya thug in his native tongue. They proceed to show off by speaking French, Italian, German, and Spanish in front of Smecker, by having a quick conversation wondering how he figured most of their story without having to talk to them. To Smecker's credit, he seems to pick up on the conversation by the time it finishes up.
In the second film, this gets subverted: Romeo asks his uncle in Spanish not to embarrass him in front of the McManus brothers. He doesn't realize they know Spanish too.
Invisible Advertising: As mentioned, the film was all ready to be released, but unfortunate timing meant it had to be released quietly.
The second movie was set up this way at first, but positive reception among the fans gave it two wider releases.
Knight of Cerebus: Whenever Il Duce gets called in around the halfway mark, things get serious. Which is very odd seeing as Il Duce is played by Billy Connolly.
Knight Templar: The brothers definitely don't play this straight, but they do occasionally exploit it to screw with people.
Lamarck Was Right: This might explain how a pair of multi-lingual Irish twins who spent their lives praying, living in a broken apartment, and working at a meat plant are so good at killing off mobsters with pairs of pistols.The Man Behind the Man in the sequel even lampshades it.
Large Ham: Smecker, whenever he is re-enacting one of the shootouts. As well, his protegee Eunice Bloom. Connor, in general.
A Lighter Shade Of Gray: "We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain. For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three, and on that day, you will reap it!"
Men Children: When they're not shooting people in the head, Connor and Murphy bicker and tussle like ten year old boys.
Missing Mom: The condition of Murphy and Connor's mother (and, presumably, Il Duce's estranged wife or possibly ex-wife) is never touched on in the released films. A deleted scene from the first film has the twins receiving an ill-timed phone call from her, but how that scene fits into canon is debatable.
Moral Dissonance: The brothers' moral compass is a bit loose. They give Rocco a free pass, despite him having a career in the Mafia which failed only because of his own incompetence, because he's a good drinking buddy. And they are perfectly willing to buy all their guns from a man heavily implied to be IRA. Not to mention they seem to have no qualms about stealing from the mobsters they kill even before they receive their Mission from God. Also Connor somehow seems to know what heroin tastes like in the sequel.
Lampshaded by Rocco.
Rocco: "Anybody you think is evil?"
Rocco: "Don't you think that's a little weird, a little psycho?"
Motivation on a Stick: Detective Greenley humorously suggests that the only way they're going to catch the McManus brothers is by "...dangling a potato on a string" — of course, they walk in just as he's saying this.
Murphy: You'd probably have better luck with a beer.
No Name Given / Unnamed Parent: One is more likely to survive in this film without a name. The brothers' names are Connor and Murphy — which is rarely mentioned in either film while every other character gets a pause and a brief caption that literally spells out their identity. Il Duce their father gets a caption that reveals absolutely nothing and is only addressed by his real name, Noah, in the second film. The Roman as well only gets a proper name during the last third of the second film.
Rated M for Manly: Both movies. The dream sequence in the sequel underlines this, though most people generally agree that the scene where Connor rips a toilet out of the floor is the best example in the first.
In the first movie, Rocco emphasizes a point by slamming his hands down on a table, causing the Beretta 92 pistol sitting on the table — which, mind you, is standard issue for U.S. soldiers and designed specifically to avert this trope — to fire, killing the poor pussycat that was laying next to it. Particularly jarring compared to the courthouse climax when the baliffs drop their guns from a mezzanine fifteen or twenty feet up without any mishap.
In the DVD commentary, it's stated that this scene exists due to a combination of Rule of Funny and a hatred of cats.
The sequel averts this, however, when the brothers drop their Desert Eagles when surrounded by police and SWAT after the last shoot-out.
Rule of Cool: Basically the entire franchise relies on this.
Running Gag: Several, but the most obvious is the oft-compared-to "rocket surgery"
Southies: Oh my yes. The film is quite inaccurate on the subject, though it doesn't matter. Interestingly, the film's cult fandom is not especially large around South Boston.
Shirtless Scene: When the twins awaken from the vision/dream they get one of these.
Shoo Out the Clowns: At key points in parts 1 and 2, the plot gets more serious, the stakes get higher and the joking stops cold.
Tourettes Shitcock Syndrome: The bartender Doc. There has been some attempt at realism here, though. Doc has motor tics as well as verbal ones, and his verbal tic is preceeded by a period of stuttering.
Ultimate Job Security: Arguably Detective Greenly, who is somewhat incompetent compared to Smecker (and even Dolly and Duffy to an extent). However, he is only shown as being bad at making theories, not at everything. Also, Greenly claims in the second film that he, Dolly, and Duffy have put away half the guys that are in prison. While he was obviously exaggerating, the other characters wouldn't hesitate to take the piss out of him if it was a total lie.
Wall of Weapons: The underground storage bunker that they get their stock from.
Examples That Occur In The First Film:
Actor Allusion While re-enacting one of the murders, Smecker raises his hands up to the heavens, a reference to DeFoe's death in the movie Platoon.
Air-Vent Passageway: Subverted and Lampshaded - the brothers use an air vent to get into the Russian Mobster's meeting, but get lost. They only end up in the right place because they start fighting each other and cause the vent to break through the ceiling, dumping them right into the correct room. Later, Smecker lampshades this, noting that they're amateurs because Air Vent Escapes only happen on TV and no pro would try it.
Almighty Janitor: In dealing with the Saints, Yakavetta turns to retired mobster Augustus DiStephano, who works as a bathroom attendant. He is apparently well-connected enough to get Il Duce out of prison.
Later, one of the two Russian gangsters (the same one, in fact) gets a toilet dropped directly on his cranium. There are many, many other examples. Let's just say that this film ties with Tropic Thunder in the Hilarious Carnage department.
Anachronic Order: A subtle one. To judge from the way the priests in the opening church scene react to seeing Connor and Murphy, it has to be set after the main events of the movie.
Angrish: Loads and loads. Of note is Rocco's reaction to the Copley Plaza massacre is one of these involving a Cluster F-Bomb.
Rocco: Fucking... what the fucking fuck... who the fuck fucked this fucking... how did you two fucking fucks... FUCK!
Connor: Well, that certainly illustrates the diversity of the word.
Apathetic Citizens: "Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men."
Artistic License - Mythology: It depends on which region of Greece you're learning from, but Smecker says in Greek mythology, people had to pay the toll to cross the river, and that's where the coins on the eyes comes from. In actuality, only some believed that, while most believed that only the living had to pay to cross the river to the Underworld, and even in those that believed it, the coin went in the mouth, not on the eyes.
Asshole Victim: Just about every one of the Saints' victims, but Vincenzo, the Sick Mob Man, and Papa Joe himself in particular.
Bar Brawl: The McManuses throw down with the Russian mob dudes early on in the movie and sets the events of the film in motion.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Papa Joe shoots Rocco, but leaves the McManuses bound. May be justified by him wanting to question the brothers some more and thinking of Rocco as dead weight.
Bookends: The movie opens with a priest telling the story of Kitty Genovese, while in the trial at the end of the movie, Papa Joe's alibi to an unspecified charge is that he was at the genovese (the butcher shop) with his mother.
Cassandra Truth: The Butt Monkey detectives of the Boston Police are so wildly wrong in the first part of the movie that when they finally start getting it right later on, Smecker doesn't believe them.
Cluster F-Bomb: See Angrish, above. According to IMDB, the word is dropped 246 times.
Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.
Dumbass Has a Point: Greenly. He manages to correctly state the motive behind the McManus brothers' murders ("They were all bad guys. Now, they're dead bad guys.") as well as the number of hitmen sent after them ("What if it was one guy with six guns?"), only to have his conclusions immediately shot down by Smecker.
Flashback: All the hits except the last are shown like this, usually involving Agent Smecker working out what happened. Eventually Smecker and the Saints are shown in the same scene, showing how Smecker now identifies with them.
Genre Savvy: The McManus brothers and Agent Smecker both repeatedly comment on their exploits whenever they resemble TV or action movies.
Gory Discretion Shot: As soon as the McManus brothers and their father Il Duce have finished with their prayer during the last scene of the movie, they blow off Don Yakavetta's head with two silenced Beretta 92's AND a Franchi PA3/215 shotgun. Obviously, we don't see the carnage, as it cuts to a shot showing Smecker's horrified expression before he closes his eyes and turns away
Note that he only shuts his eyes a split second AFTER the shotgun fired, meaning that he saw what we didn't in that scene.
Hollywood Healing: Connor's wounds from the handcuffs are pretty much gone in about three or four days, and don't scar at all. Same for Murphy's cauterized arm.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: The scene with the cat, where Rocco slams his fists against the table to make a point after deciding to join them, and the Beretta that the brothers just gave him goes off and splatters his sister's cat against the near wall. It doesn't truly become hilarious until Rocco's dumb-assed question, "Is it dead?"
An aversion can be seen in that same scene. Even though Murphy and Connor are hammered out of their minds and play around with their guns for most of the scene, neither of them have a magazine fed into their weapons. Rocco having his gun loaded and chambered is explained by him being "kind of an idiot".
Jurisdiction Friction: Averted. When Smecker is introduced, Da Chief gives the cops outright orders to co-operate fully. The police hate Smecker's arrogance at first, but quickly come to respect his skills.
Lzherusskie: Fat Man (Yuri Petrova) is the only Russian played by actual Russian.
Nerves of Steel: Say what you will about the "sick fuck" hitman, but he's got balls. His poker and pool party is getting shot up while he's in the bathroom. A bullet punches a hole through the door and shatters the mirror. Does he even flinch? No. He just puts his glasses on, pulls his pants up, takes the towels of the towel rack and folds them neatly, rips the towel rack off the wall, and even when he gets shot, he smashes the gun out of his shooter's hand.
No Name Given: The contract killer is never named, and is only addressed in the film as "Sick Fuck!" He is credited as "Sick Mob Man". Similarly, Il Duce goes by a Nom de Guerre and his name isn't revealed until the sequel.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The shootout between the Saints and II Duce. The mundane explanation is three self-confessed amateurs against a hit man who hasn't been able to practice his skills in twenty five years. The magical explanation is that they were chosen by God to carry out a specific mission, and wouldn't be allowed to kill each other so long as they were needed.
Earlier in the same film, after Yakavetta's men have captured the Saints, and realized that Il Duce, whom they hired to kill the Saints and loves killing Mafiosos isn't going to stop until he's killed somebody.
Professional Killer: Rocco drives a "sick fuck" hitman to his job, where he proceeds to wipe out a family. The three face another, more Badass hitman in the form of Il Duce shortly after finishing off the first.
Shipped in Shackles: Il Duce (who provides the page image for this trope) is moved from his cell to the ground floor for a parole hearing. He is cuffed hand and foot, chained to a rolling platform, and wheeled down to the parole board. The entire prison is put on high-alert, with shotgun-wielding guards on every floor, all to move one man down a few flights of stairs. Once he's there, they even put him inside a metal cage to protect the parole board. All this serves to establish him as probably the biggest Badass of the movie.
Shur Fine Guns: Rocco's Beretta 92, which goes off just from slamming his fists on the table it's laying on, with bad results for his sister's cat.
Suspiciously Specific Sermon: A monsignor delivers a sermon referencing the Kitty Genovese case, saying "now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men." The brothers McManus, after leaving the church, comment that "the Monsigneour's finally getting the point". This combines with the fact that the visiting priest is about to object to their coming up past the pulpit to kiss the feet of the crucified Jesus until another priest whispers something to him, at which point the visiting priest's face becomes an expression of shock and awe. It also combines with the fact that no one else in the congregation seems to object to the boys' behavior. All of these elements give the impression that this scene actually takes place after the boys' transformation into the Saints and implies that the sermon is intended to be a veiled approval by the speaking priest of the Saints' agenda.
Too Dumb to Live: The two mob soldiers who had been aware of Rocco being set up to be killed, laugh at his face and gloat them not warning him is proof of being reliable for promotion. Keep in mind they do this to a guy who for all they know, killed nine Russian mob bosses with a six-shot revolver.
Camera Abuse: In-universe example: Gorgeous George is having a teleconference (of sorts) with Concezio, who screams at him so much that he covers his camera lens in spittle.
The Conspiracy: The Roman has been playing the McManus clan against the Mafia to further his own standing for decades. Also, the Catholic Church appears to be taking a more... proactive role in the fight against Evil.
Dare to Be Badass: Rocco's opening narration, talking about how you are either a Talker, or a Doer.
Dawson Casting: In the sequel, Judd Nelson plays the son of the Big Bad of the first film (who was played by Carlo Rota). Judd Nelson was born on 1959 and Carlo Rota was born on 1961. Do the math.
Greenly says, "They're either on their way here, or they're already here." Just as we're expecting a Bad Ass Entry of the Saints doing the slow walk, we instead cut to them squeezed into a Volkswagon Beetle.
Gun Twirling: Eunice Bloom twirling a revolver as she recounts the attack on the Yakavettas.
Hand Cannon: In the sequel, the brothers trade in their Berettas for Desert Eagles but it is also subverted when Romeo asks for a handgun and the brothers give him a tiny pocket pistol.
Homage: Flashback scenes showing an older character's origins in crime amongst Italians in the early 1900s. Sound familiar?
Important Haircut: Lampshaded. The brothers wonder why they cut their hair since they now match their police sketches, when previously they looked "like Jesus Christ."
Man Behind the Man: The mysterious "Roman" who masterminded the hit on the priest is revealed to be Il Duce's childhood friend Louie. Louie reveals that he was only interested in rising up the ranks of the mafia and was using Noah/Il Duce to eliminate the competition, afterward giving him up to the police when he was done. The mafia cast him out as well, but he helped rebuild the Yakavetta family after Papa Joe's demise, and let the Saints take out the rest of the Mafia so Louie can take control.
Tap on the Head: When pistol whipping someone, it works better when you use a gun that's bigger then the size of your palm.
Television Geography: There is an establishing shot of downtown Boston early on in the film. However, it is obviously stock footage because the Central Artery is still going through downtown which the Big Dig replaced long before this movie was made.
Unreliable Narrator: Special Agent Eunice Bloom's re-enactment of the bar shootout subtly lampshades this during the slow-mo shot of the guys shooting each other. When she walks past the last pair of guys, she mimes shooting the guy on the right twice as he takes two bullets... before the guy opposite him raises his weapon and fires off the third shot that goes into the him. She even smirks at the camera when this happens.
Unwitting Pawn: Concezio Yakevetta religiously followed the orders of the Roman, completely unaware that Louie was actually trying to bring the Saints and their father back so they could eliminate the Yakevetta family in revenge for casting him out.
The War on Terror: Otillio came into the country on a visa signed by a sponsor who didn't exist, two months after the September 11th attacks. Which meant that someone pushed his paperwork through during the highest security alert in the history of the United States of America.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Romeo. An approving pat on the hand from his uncle and clear father figure results in Manly Tears from Romeo as he reflects on it later. Naturally, the brothers tease him for it.
Eunice: "With all due respect... man, I hate it when people say that because it is inevitably followed by a disrespectful remark. Here let me give you an example: With all due respect, detective, this matter falls under whatever jurisdiction I fuckin' say it does."