Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “The Boondock Saints.”
The Movie: “The Boondock Saints”
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus
Director: Troy Duffy
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Two Irish Catholic brothers become vigilantes and wipe out Boston’s criminal underworld in the name of God.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 28 percent
Brown: Apparently we’re all about the righteous lately on the JOE-DOWN.
In our last installment, we watched one failure of a man’s cross-country journey to an amusement park in hopes of bringing his family together in the wretched “Vacation” remake.
And this week, we’re here to talk about two men on a mission from God.
Wait, wrong movie. This one has our main characters using violence in the name of the lord.
Nope, we already did that one.
*Sigh* I’m talking about “The Boondock Saints.”
See, this is a memorable movie of my teenage years. This movie never got a theater run, instead its distribution came heavily from Blockbuster Video and word-of-mouth.
And my friend Brian LOVED this movie and showed it to our circle of friends (many of whom attended the same Lutheran church because LOL Minnesota). I remember there being talk of people wanting to get the Latin tattoos the McManus brothers have on their hands, though I don’t think anyone went through with it.
Back then, we thought it was so deep by making us think about if we’d kill bad people in the name of God.
… We liked a shitty, shitty movie.
Froemming, while I dig up my Killswitch Engage CDs to REALLY get into my 2004 headspace, give me your initial take.
Froemming: I saw this when it came out on DVD two decades ago, and I really disliked it. The problem was, everyone else was gaga over it. So from, say, 1999 to 2003 I had this conversation many times:
DudeBro: Hey, you ever see “Boondock Saints?”
DudeBro: (in a sudden and confusing Boston accent) Isn’t it wicked ahwsome?
Me: No, not really.
The DudeBro then yells at me for what feels like an hour about how I didn’t understand the movie.
These conversations basically led me to never tell anyone my opinion on this movie. So, for nearly 20 years I just nodded when people started yapping their gums about this and tried to find a way to change the conversation.
Then you come along and pick it for the JOE-DOWN, so friends, if you love this movie, you are not going to enjoy this review.
Brown, as I debate which movie has more confusing Catholic imagery, this or “Man of Steel,” why don’t you drop your toilet of knowledge upon the rest of our brains and kick this off?
Brown: You’ll thank me for this review so you can get all that DudeBro pent-up aggression out on “The Boondock Saints.”
This movie begins at a Catholic church during Mass where the priest’s sermon is
an exposition dump on the story of Kitty Genovese, a real-life story from 1964 about the titular woman being killed outside an apartment building in New York. Witnesses either heard or witnessed the murder and no one called the police. If you took a high-school psychology class, you’ve heard of this.
When the priest drops the line talking about the indifference of good men, I had no doubt that line was repeated at Proud Boy get-togethers. That’ll be a recurring theme throughout this review.
During the MIDDLE of the sermon, the McManus brothers, Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus) walk in front of the priest and kiss the feet of Jesus.
It’d be less distracting if they were introduced like Thugnificent from this group of Boondocks.
Froemming: They are just allowed to interrupt this church service, and with what we see later, what are these guys? Hitmen for the Catholic Church? Like John-Wick-meets-The-Pope? And if so, why are they not killing all those diddler priests we always hear about? They spend their time killing Russian mobsters and Ron Jeremy, which I am all-in for, but they should set their sights on their own house as well.
Brown: Well, they’re not on a mission from God yet, Froemming. First, we have to see them punch out a woman in a meat packing plant for calling them assholes on St. Patrick’s Day.
Yeah… we’re not even through the opening credits and the brothers poke fun at a woman for explaining the origin of the “rule of thumb” and end up punching her out.
Also, we see the brothers return “home” after a hard day of felonious assault. And, dude, do the McManus brothers sleep in a YMCA shower? I was expecting Pennywise to climb out of their drain.
Froemming: Well, they probably spend all their money at the bar, because they are drunk Micks who wouldn’t have lasted very long during the original Whacking Day in Springfield.
Speaking of drunk Irishmen, we next go to the bar, where our heroes are getting tuned up and the bartender thinks this is a good time to let his patrons know he will be closing up shop permanently because of the mafia or something.
Brown: Yeah, the Russian mob is buying up property all over town, including this no-name bar run by an Irish man with Tourettes. Because in 1999, you could get away with a defining characteristic of saying “(REDACTED)-ass” every other line.
Well, a fight breaks out between the Russians and the patrons of the bar (led by the McManus brothers).
After this donnybrook, we come to a crime scene in a back alley where the two Russians are dead and with rather usual bandages.
The local PD thinks the deaths were from a *readies terrible Boston accent* “YOUGE FRIGGIN’ GAUY.” But this is a job for the best part/character of this movie: FBI agent Paul Smecker, played by a no-(REDACTED)-given Willem Dafoe. The GODDAMN GREEN GOBLIN!
Froemming: He’ll always be Bobby Peru to me.
So Smecker shows up and like Brown pointed out to me, is basically Hydrox Will Graham from “Manhunter.” He pops on classical music and sways around as he figures out how the crime went down. And like Jerry Seinfeld, I can’t watch a man sing a song or sway.
After he does his thing, the movie flashes back to what went down, which included the brothers setting fire to the mafia soldier’s ass during the bar fight, the next day some hitmen show up to kill them in the most nonsensical way: By cuffing one to a toilet and dragging the other down five flights of stairs to kill him in the street, in broad daylight.
This movie was written by an idiot.
And this scene was always what DudeBros thought of as their ace-in-the-hole scene of awesomeness, when Connor rips the toilet he is cuffed to and goes to the roof, where he drops it on the head of one of the hitmen, and he falls on the other, knocking him out too.
That fall would have killed him ten times over.
This movie was written by an idiot.
Brown: I don’t care what kind of adrenaline super strength you have to rip a toilet out of the floor, you’re not hoisting that thing up flights of stairs THEN walking on and balancing on top of barrels to drop said toilet with pinpoint precision.
The bartender tells the McManus brothers that an FBI agent came to the bar looking for them. There’s no manhunt going on for two murderous Irish brothers because white privilege. The brothers turn themselves in and charm Smecker, who chalks the whole thing up to self-defense.
Look, self-defense makes sense but Smecker made that assumption from jump street and the brothers are treated like heroes. How about having any sort of healthy skepticism, Smecker?
We won’t get that because this movie is garbage written for garbage people.
Anywho, the McManus brothers stay in the jail overnight to evade the media jackals. And during the night, they’re awakened by the words of the sermon the day before and they interpret this as the Lord giving them carte blanche to kill people.
Froemming: Narrator: It wasn’t.
So now our heroes are deranged murderers with a God complex. They will murder those who do not fit into their worldview of worthy, such as mafia killers. It was at this point I realized they are just the Irish Al-Qaeda. True believers and radicals are really not people one should look up to and root for. But this movie was written by an idiot, so here we are.
So, after receiving a phone call from God(?) letting Conner know where to find a big meeting of mafia bosses (something real mafia bosses stopped doing because it caused more trouble than it is worth in the 1970s) so he and his brother can gun them all down in cold blood, like Jesus would.
That UCB clip pretty much sums up this movie’s way of thinking.
Brown: Also around this time, we get a proper introduction to Rocco, a low-level bagman for the Yakavetta crime family. He meets up with Papa Joe, the head of the family, and Vincenzo, an underboss played by Ron Jeremy in an Elvis Halloween costume.
Froemming: Ron Jeremy, the porn actor who is facing up to 300 years in prison for sexual assault?
Brown: The very same!
Rocco tells a racist joke. Ron Jememy gets sweaty while, thankfully, keeping his clothes on. It’s all just awkward and unnecessary. Off-screen, I guess Rocco is assigned to kill off a Russian mobster?
But he won’t get that chance because the McManus brothers climb through the vents and Gump their way into killing nine mobsters, all while hanging upside-down via rope.
The main boss in the room, they kill execution style while saying the family prayer because they’re good Christian boys!
This is (REDACTED) bad. Like Liberty University propaganda bad.
Also, they put coins on the eyes of the dead bodies for religious symbolism about the River Styx. That is serial killer shit!
Froemming: This dangling and shooting thing is commented on by Smecker as being like in a bad TV show. I wonder if Defoe was just adlibbing here to comment on how stupid this movie is.
Brown: That was absolutely an actor’s choice.
Froemming: He deduces there are two shooters from the angles of the head wounds in the main mob guy, who has black goo that looks like it could be Venom over his eyes, along with the pennies, which seems pretty cheap. At least put some quarters on these eyes, you cheapskates.
After this, they go to Rocco’s girlfriend’s place, where the brothers realize Rocco was set up to get killed during that whole weird encounter. They also killed a cat, which pissed me right off.
Rocco does not take the news he was sent to kill nine guys with six bullets well, so he goes to his bosses restaurant and just kills people in broad daylight. Like it says to do in the Bible when one is wronged.
Rocco is one of the worst-written characters in a movie I have ever seen.
Brown: The McManus brothers are all about righteous killing. Exterminating the worst of society. Know who’s on that list?!
Rocco! Dude is unapologetic to his junkie girlfriend about accidentally killing her cat during a night of binge-drinking. He works for the mafia. Later on, he commits sexual assault by feeling up an unconscious stripper. I mean, he gets a pass because they have fun drinking with him? Your morals are (REDACTED) and you’re just as bad as the people you kill, McManus brothers!
Froemming: They differentiate between good bad guys and bad bad guys like Vanilla Ice differentiates between “Under Pressure” and “Ice Ice Baby.”
Brown: Not only are the McManus brothers letting Rocco live, they let him join their crusade!
Rocco leads them to a strip club where, once again, it turns into a crime scene with three people dead. Smecker breaks down the scene again, where we see the brothers whack Vincenzo while he’s, well, whacking off. At least Ron Jeremy died doing something he loved.
Froemming: Now what about the other two victims? They were not mobbed up, and their only crime was jerking it to a stripper. But in the eyes of Irish Al-Qaeda, they were just as guilty and deserved capital punishment for the sin of having a boner and some money at a strip club. And not only that, they are killed by Rocco, who seems to enjoy murdering people for the hell of it like Ted Bundy. They let him live? These two are Alpha Chuckleheads.
Brown: All Rocco says about the other two guys is “Hey, I know them, they’re bad, too?” Well, how bad are we talking? At the end of the movie, the McManus brothers talk about anyone doing evil that is venturing over into true evil heed their word… well, define what evil is for these two before you become judge, jury and executioner, movie!
Froemming: I’m trying to remember that part in the Bible where Jesus said “Kill all the sinners in cold blood. Turning the other cheek and loving the sinner and hating the sin is for CUCKS!”
Brown: I think that was in the Book of (Dan) Bilzerian.
So not only do we have this strip club massacre, Smecker is told just now about the incident at the diner. He starts losing it because they have no leads in this string of gangland murders. For all he knows, it’s an international turf war since he went on about the Irish and Russian gangs on uneasy terms early on.
Oh, Rocco also sets up another killing spree at the poker game of a mafia killer/”cleaner” where he bludgeons a man to death with a cue ball. That’s a gruesome way to kill someone and I’m pretty sure the Bible isn’t cool about letting people suffer.
But this movie doesn’t care because Troy Duffy (the movie’s writer and director) couldn’t be bothered to read the Bible, let alone “Christianity for Dummies.” His reaction to someone saying they like the Book of Genesis is probably, “I love Phil Collins!”
Froemming: I happen to love Phil Collins myself. Troy Duffy seems to just be an asshole.
Smecker goes on quite the booze bender after all this, because he can’t make heads or tails of what is happening. He also sleeps with men and is homophobic, which would be a very interesting dynamic in the hands of a good filmmaker, but here we just get an angry Smecker using gay slurs for a cheap joke.
So he comes stumbling out of a bar and Rocco sees this and decides to go out on his own to murder an FBI agent, which seems like the dumbest idea in the world, but again, Rocco is one of the worst-written characters I have ever seen in a movie, so here we are.
Brown: Before Smecker’s binge drinking, we see the McManus brothers get some comeuppance.
See, with so many of his crew being killed off, Papa Joe enlists the help of Il Duce, a ruthless old-school mafia hitman not unlike John Wick. Except old. And Irish.
Froemming: And played by comedian Billy Connolly, who does not really fit the description of a badass mafia muscleman. He fits the description of a hilarious Irish comedian.
Brown: As the McManuses and Rocco walk out of the cleaner’s house, they are greeted by Il Duce, who apparently is as skilled as six men with guns. And yet he doesn’t kill the McManus brothers. All he does is shoot Rocco’s finger off, which is the only piece of evidence left on the scene after the McManus brothers sprayed every bit of blood with ammonia.
As Smecker describes the scene, it does lead to a Dafoe line that should be shown in master’s classes in bad acting.
This movie is hot garbage in the sun, but man, Dafoe is a lot of fun in this flick.
Froemming: How did these four guys with guns manage to not get a lethal hit at their target? Connor can pinpoint drop a toilet on a man’s head, but can’t aim a gun?
So yeah, Smecker realizes these guys who are out for street justice are the brothers he let go at the start of the movie, plus this Manson-like weirdo Rocco. He gets drunk, Rocco follows him to a church, where he assaults a priest in a confessional booth. Again, why haven’t the brothers killed this guy? He violates and checks-off every mark on their list of “why we kill people.”
Brown: In the confessional, where Rocco is literally holding a priest at gunpoint, Smecker talks about how he thinks the McManus brothers are performing a necessary evil and can get around the bureaucratic red tape and serve true justice. Like Batman. Except the part where they kill people.
The priest encourages this by telling Smecker that “The laws of God are higher than the laws of man.” Again, something that some Oath Keepers absolutely said to each other prior to Jan. 6.
And my God, the amount of white privilege afforded to the McManus brothers in this flick… This charade of a righteous quest ends in 10 minutes if the McManus brothers were black.
But no, the good, God-fearin’ Irish boys start WORKING with Smecker as they try to bring down Papa Joe at his house. They (REDACTED) call Smecker and explain what they’re going to do! There’s turning the other cheek and giving yourself plausible deniability, and then there’s aiding and abetting murderers with a God complex.
God, this movie just empowers assholes who brush off their behavior because they wear a crucifix around their neck. (REDACTED) this movie.
Froemming: Well, we soon find out that they are walking into…
Because we see them tied up in a basement, beaten bloody by hired goons. Smecker finds out it is a trap, so he decides to dress in drag, seduce a mafioso during an important time for the family in the capture and murder of Papa Joe’s enemies and free them.
Brown: This was all I could think of with Dafoe in drag.
Froemming: This seems overly elaborate to save their bacon, considering Dafoe is equally as ugly dressed like a woman as he is dressed as a man. So hinging all this on the hopes of a very horny hired goon seems kinda stupid.
But he sees some goon has his throat slit. There is someone else in this house killing goons. And like in a cartoon, he is knocked over the head and passes out by the hands of Il Duce, who is there killing his employer’s goons for reasons?
Then Il Duce gets to the basement, where he sees the brothers putting their bus fare on their victims eyes and reciting the family prayer, and also being Irish he decides to join their cause for reasons?
This movie was written by an idiot.
Brown: It’s a family prayer, Froemming. Il Duce is the father of the McManus brothers.
Brown: Congrats boys, your dad is a killer like you are! But he kills indiscriminately for awful people and yet, he’s allowed to live.
This movie has no (REDACTED) morals. People are Christian crusaders for plot convenience.
Months later, Papa Joe is on trial and everyone is expecting him to be acquitted. He’s a Teflon Don, like Gotti or Trump.
Froemming: Except he lacks all the charm, charisma, flare and personality of Gotti. And he can never convince rubes to elect him president of the United States like Trump, because he is Russian or something.
Brown: What he doesn’t know is that Smecker and the Boston PD are aiding the McManus brothers in breaking into the courthouse with their weapons to kill Papa Joe in broad daylight, in front of the world’s media.
They reveal their identities and no one in a position of authority does ANYTHING. And they give a right pretty speech about how righteous they are before putting two bullets and a shotgun slug into Papa Joe’s skull.
I seriously believe every Q jerkoff that broke into the Capitol thought they’d be doing this to Nancy Pelosi and/or Mike Pence on Jan. 6.
Froemming: I hate this movie so much.
After, we get man-on-the-street reactions to the Irish Al-Qaeda, where like everything in the world, the opinion is split. Stupid people love them. Because they are stupid, like the guy who wrote this piece of shit movie.
Brown: Don’t you feel better about getting that “Boondock Saints” venom out of your system?
Froemming: I’d have felt better not watching this in the first place.
Brown, I have nothing witty to say for us to go to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: No. This movie is stuck up its own ass. I’m mad at both my teenage self and all my friends for thinking this movie was philosophic when it’s as deep as a kiddie pool.
Froemming: No. No I would not. I did not like it in 1999, I do not like it now.
Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN: