November 5, 2009

The Boondock Saints II - All Saints Day

boondocksaints21_largeWhat a long, strange trip The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day has had on its way to the big screen. The story begins way back in 1999 when writer/director Troy Duffy made the original film. It was barely in theaters long enough to have a cup of coffee. What it did do was begin a stir on the underground cult scene, such that when the DVD arrived back in 2001 it saw an explosion in popularity. I am pretty sure anyone and everyone in college during that time either saw the movie or was aware of it. It had a reputation as a wild action film. It also had the promise of a sequel.

If you do a quick search, I am sure you can find a plethora of information regarding Troy Duffy and the drama surrounding The Boondock Saints. I will not recount that here, suffice to say things happened causing the ten-year delay between the first and second films. There are reasons why Duffy has no known credits between then and now. Fortunately, none of these delays have to do with his talent. There is no question that Troy Duffy has talent, what he needs is someone to help him hone those skills to improve the onscreen product.


I remember first seeing The Boondock Saints and loving the over the top style, chopped up story telling, and the performances of all involved (including the ill-fated cat). I have recently revisited the movie and have found that it has not aged all that well. I still like it, there is still wild stuff to found within its frames. The problem is that it has the feel of warmed over Tarantino with a side of John Woo. Not to mention the way it keeps flashing back over all the action sequences is rather annoying. On the other hand, Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus have good chemistry as the brothers and Willem Dafoe is borderline brilliant as the bizarre FBI agent Smecker.

That brings us to the new film, sub-titled All Saints Day. We pick up the brothers living with their father (Billy Connolly) on a farm in Ireland, far from their days as street cleaners in Boston. However, when a priest is murdered back in Boston in the brothers signature fashion it is only a matter of time before Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus) learn this news, retrieve their weapons from storage and head back to the States.

All Saints Day follows a similar development arc as the first. The brothers come back to take care of business, enlist the aid of a local, and proceed to tear through the criminal underworld until they reach the man behind everything for a final explosive showdown. Along the way they run into a couple of familiar faces in the form of the comedic detective trio from the first film.


Among the new faces is Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz). She is the new agent looking for the brothers since Smecker is no longer in the picture. Julie Benz takes hold of the character and chews nearly as much scenery as Willem Dafoe did in the first. While I found her to be quite entertaining, she was merely a copy of Dafoe in the first film. The way she is a little bit odd, the way she recreated what happened, all of it was Dafoe's Smecker.

The other principal new face is Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.). He steps in to play the same role as David Della Rocco did in the first. You know the sort, the goofy side kick who will throw down but is essentially there for comedic value. Much like Benz, Collins really takes to the role and is quite funny in it. If only he had better material to work with.

When it comes right down to it, this is a fun action movie. It is nothing great and I fear the cult-hype machine will give this movie more credit than it deserves. I could hear it in the voices of others at the screening. They were walking out saying how great it was and how long they had been waiting for it. Considering it is a decent movie and how much fans have been looking forward to it, I would not doubt that perceptions will be clouded in light of the new movie at hand.


The movie is certainly fun, but it is essentially the same film with less story. The movie flows in essentially the same arc with similar characters filling similar roles with frequent stops for some over the top gun play.

Troy Duffy certainly knows how to make an entertaining movie. This just does not show any growth. It is almost like he has been in a holding pattern for the past ten years. Could Duffy have been in suspended animation waiting for the perfect time to make a comeback? That would explain the been there done that feel of All Saints Day.

Bottomline. When it comes right down to it, this is a fun movie. The performances are fine, the action is fun, and it should do well. Just do not expect any life changing experience. It still feels like warmed over Tarantino and Woo.

Mildly Recommended.


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