The Boondock Saints is a 1999 American crime thriller film written and directed by Troy Duffy. The film stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as Irish fraternal twins, Connor and Murphy MacManus, 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.
The film opens with Irish brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus attending Mass at a Catholic Church, where the priest mentions the fate of Kitty Genovese. Next, while celebrating St. Patrick's Day with friends, the two get into a bar brawl with three Russian mobsters who want to close the pub and take over the land it is built on. The two brothers try to reason with the mobsters, but the latter responds with violence. The next morning, two of the Russians seek revenge on Connor and Murphy, who kill the mobsters in an act of self-defense. FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is assigned to the case and surmises that the death of the Russians was not a professional hit, but probable self-defense. The brothers decide to clear their names and arrive at the police station, where they find that the police and local news reporters see them as heroes. During an interview with Smecker, they reveal that their mother insisted they be fluent in several languages (including Russian, Italian, Spanish, French, Irish (Gaelic) and German), something they demonstrate as an explanation of how they communicated with the mobsters. Connor and Murphy retell their incident to Smecker, and to avoid attention from the media the brothers decide to spend the night in a holding cell, where they receive what appears to be a "calling" from God telling them to hunt down wicked men so that the innocent will flourish. Connor and Murphy resolve to rid Boston of evil men, with their friend and former mob errand boy Rocco (David Della Rocco) eventually joining them to help. Connor learns of a meeting of Russian syndicate bosses at a hotel from a pager taken from one of the dead Russian mobsters. Having equipped themselves with weaponry from a local underground gun dealer, the brothers quickly kill eight of the nine bosses and underbosses, and they save the leader, Yuri Petrov (Victor Pedtarchenko), who is later referred to by the police as "Fat/Fag Man", for last. The brothers recite their family prayer and kill Petrova with two gunshots to the back of the headthe bullets cross and go out his eyes. They place coins on the eyes of all nine bodies, as if to pay the toll to cross the River Styx. During the investigation, Smecker believes that the killings of the Russian mobsters are the result of the beginning of a mob war. The next day, Rocco learns that he was set up and sold out by his boss, Giuseppe "Papa Joe" Yakavetta (Carlo Rota), as he confirms that Papa Joe attempted to send Rocco to the hotel to solely confront the Russian mobsters at the hotel with only a revolver (this concern was also brought up by the brothers prior to Rocco confirming it). Rocco decides to officially join the McManus brothers in their mission. That night, the McManus brothers and Rocco hunt down underboss of the Yakavetta crime family, Vincenzo Lipazzi, (Ron Jeremy) in a porn shack and kill him. A few other criminals are killed as well. This incidents leads to Smecker to dismiss the gang war theory he earlier brought up. In response to the growing threat from the three vigilantes, Papa Joe contracts the feared hitman, Il Duce (Billy Connolly) to deal with them. After killing a criminal that Rocco had a personal hatred for at that man's house, the three men are ambushed by Il Duce as they are exiting the house. Although they manage to chase Il Duce away, the three men suffer from wounds, the most serious being the loss of Rocco's finger. Rather than risk going to a hospital and having to explain the bullet wounds, the three cauterize the wounds with an iron. Hours later as the police conduct an investigation on the spot of where the firefight took place, the investigation seems futile since the brothers covered their tracks by spraying any blood left behind with ammonia. However, during his frustrated rant, Smecker happens upon the part of the finger lost by Rocco. Smecker decides to do an independent investigation to see who was behind the gun battle, and is able to track the evidence down to Rocco and his two allies. This leaves Smecker in a difficult scenario, and struggles with the choice of whether to prosecute the three men, or join them in their cause, as Smecker becomes sympathetic towards the brothers' actions. Under the advice of a reluctant priest, Smecker decides to help the three men. Later, the brothers and Rocco infiltrate the Yakavetta headquarters to finish off the family, followed by Smecker who dresses in drag to gain admittance. The brothers are captured, and Rocco is shot and killed by Papa Joe. Meanwhile, Smecker kills two men before being knocked unconscious by Il Duce. As Papa Joe leaves his house, the brothers manage to escape and subdue their captors. As the brothers say their family prayer over Rocco, Il Duce enters the room and is prepared to open fire. However, it is revealed that Il Duce is the brothers' father, Noah. Il Duce finishes the prayer and decides to join his two sons in their mission to destroy all evil. Three months later, Papa Joe is sent to trial. However, the reporters on-scene anticipate his acquittal. The brothers and Il Duce, aided by Agent Smecker and three detectives, infiltrate the trial (by sliding their weapons over the metal detector), unmasked, and make a speech stating that they intend to eradicate evil wherever they find it before the three men recite their family prayer and kill Papa Joe in front of the audience. The media dubs the three as "the Saints", and the movie ends with various candid interviews with the public, reflecting on the question "Are the Saints ultimately good...or evil?"