I just finished watching Boondock Saints, because my sister said she loves it. We have rather, uh, different taste, but I try to build bridges where I can, so I watched this movie with crossed fingers, hoping for a couple of jokes or something that we could share. Unfortunately, I got nothing. The plot made no sense, one of the main characters seemed to have no actual reason to be there, characterization was both overdone and patchy, jokes were tired, and the plot conventions were so patched-together that it bordered on post-modern pastiche. But with that list, I could be talking about any Hollywood action flick. What really stood out for me in this one was this fascinating, contradictory homoerotic homophobia.
The main cop (the big fancy smart one from the FBI, not one of the dinky small-town Boston donut-feeders) is gay. However, at no less than two separate points in the movie does he insult the gay men around him by calling them, first, “fag,” and second, “fairy.” Mattilda (a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore) has a lot to say about the imperatives of masculinity for gay men, so I’ll step off of that soapbox. But the really special part of Boondock Saints is that it sets up a completely contradictory trilogy of male-male relationships. So there are the Boston cops, who are straight-up homophobes, and whose homophobia is meant to be shared with the audience. (There’s plenty of flouncing and opera from the FBI investigator.) Then there’s Mr. FBI, who denigrates the despicable femininity of the gay men around him. And THEN there’s the vigilante duo (which becomes, briefly, a trio), who share meaningful looks, save either other’s lives, spend all their time together, and show each other unwavering committment and – dare I say it? – love. So really, what all of this is saying is that men should be (1) highly masculine (like the smart FBI cop, like the vigilante duo); (2) NOT GAY because ew; (3) be completely oriented towards their relationships with other men (indeed, the vigilante brothers never even actually speak to any women during the entire movie); and (4) somehow accomplish all of these things simultaneously. No wonder the movie was all over the place – it was impossible to create coherent characters with that set of statutes.
I won’t even really get into how the movie imagined women (kill pimps because pimps are bad! but sex workers are stupid sluttish whores who deserve to get beaten up! but don’t touch their boobs when they pass out! but it’s totally justified to kill their johns because they are dirty and bad!).
The only saving grace was visual: the vigilante twins were cute as hell, and the Boston backdrop was wonderful. But hell, did they butcher a Boston accent…