“Who ordered the whoop-ass fajitas?”
I really didn’t think it would ever happen. Maybe, somehow, Troy Duffy would have finished a script for the oft-rumored The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, but no way no how would he be directing it. After his well documented exercise in bridge-burning—Overnight—I’m surprised he was even able to set foot in Hollywood. Here is a guy that really had things going for him, getting the surprising opportunity to actually helm his first script with an actor like Willem Dafoe involved. While The Boondock Saints did not light up the box office, it did become a huge cult success and one of my guilty pleasure favorites. But Duffy’s propensity to run his mouth looked to have ended his film career as quick as it began. Yet here we are, exactly ten years later, and his name is on the billboard poster once more, bringing back to life the characters that gave him his fifteen minutes of fame. Color me excited to revisit this world, having been on the pulse for a month looking to see where it would play here in Buffalo. After all is said and done, though, I’ve realized this sequel was completely unnecessary.
The original film was so intriguing and fun because it was unique to the time. Coming out the same year as The Matrix, high-style action shooters weren’t the norm as they are today. And the addition of sarcastic humor really made the film a sort of enigma and college late night staple. I remember the buzz that went around from friends talking about how it had to be seen. I never even heard of it before about five people kept recommending a watch—and it did not disappoint. Between the hilarious trio of misfit tough guys with the MacManus brothers and their bud Rocco, the flashback story structure showing us a successful shootout aftermath only to follow with the total screw-up the hit really was, and the flamboyant brilliance of Dafoe’s Special Agent Smecker making him a cultural icon in the 00’s, how could you not be mesmerized by the gratuitous violence depicted onscreen? So, how then do you follow something that time-specific to resonate with the same panache as before? Well, of course, you go bigger and better and take even more chances to once more change the genre. Right? That’s what I thought would be done. Instead, Duffy unfortunately just gives us more of the same, a stylistic replica that pales in comparison to its counterpart.
I’m not saying that I didn’t have a fun time; I’d be lying if so. All Saints Day has some memorable one-liners and a goofily unforgettable turn from Clifton Collins Jr. as the new sidekick to make it worthwhile. The idea that it could have been a direct-to-video sequel never went away, however, as it all seemed so generic and obvious. All the gimmicks that seemed daring were now lazy and without having a back-story, showing these boys become the religiously centered Robin Hoods of death, there was no build up of suspense or interest. A priest is killed in a church and word gets to the boys hiding out in Ireland to come back and avenge this terrible act … by killing even more people. So the film is pretty much just an excuse to show them tripping their way through half-brained schemes that somehow end up working in the end. This divine influence allows them to do their duty in ridding Boston’s streets of its scum, but why should we care anymore? Duffy doesn’t even have an answer to that one as he splices in numerous scenes of ‘common citizens’ on the streets weighing in on the Saints alleged return to their city. What worked as an epilogue to the first, shedding some light on the feelings towards law enforcement and government people have, now is used to hopefully get the audience to empathize and get drawn into the plot. It didn’t work for me.
Every step of the way I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film was made by a fan doing his version of the tale. All that succeeded in the original was included, only watered-down to cheap knock-off status. Duffy is ripping himself off and doing a poor job. Even the story itself tried to be so much more than it was, adding in new plotlines every minute, trying to create some hugely important mythology to the MacManus clan. It wasn’t just two brothers trying to do right by their fellow parishioners anymore. Along with that came the true reason of why their father became a cold-blooded killer, the old hat antics of Boston’s finest interacting with the FBI agent assigned to the case, the dissention within the Italian Mafioso family at the center of it all, and the orchestrater of everything going on and how he played into each story. Some scenes seemed so random and inconsequential to the main plot that I checked out mentally a couple times while watching the pace slow to a crawl. This is Boondock Saints—the action should be rapid and intense, not boring and anti-climactic.
Despite the flaws in story and originality, though, I did really enjoy the characters themselves. Even those three dimwits in Bob Marley, Brian Mahoney, and David Ferry as Greenly, Duffy, and Dolly respectively were a joy to have back. Their bad acting and obnoxious but funny catchphrase disses only add to the charm. Collins Jr., as stated above, is my favorite aspect of the movie, playing his usual white-trash weirdo. He is such an underrated actor relegated to forgettable roles, yet he always makes them hard to be so. Love the crazy eyes and the crying; he’s the perfect opposite to the brothers although still no David Della Rocco, who himself makes a couple apparition-like appearances. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus do what they did best in the first, but are given less time to do so. These boys are the stars and main driving force for the story, yet we see far too little of them as the cops, Judd Nelson’s mob family, and flashbacks to Il Duce’s past interfere. I liked Julie Benz as Special Agent Bloom, doing her best to fill Dafoe’s shoes, but a pretty face can never replace that ugly mug in lipstick. And why is the mystery man’s face hidden throughout until the end? Is Peter Fonda’s involvement here that amazing? His cameo does nothing to supplant the real surprise awaiting us at the conclusion. And, anyways, it was the inclusion of two other familiar faces that caught my attention. Yes, those would be Paul Johansson and Robb Wells. That’s right, “One Tree Hill’s” Dan Scott and “Trailer Park Boys’” Ricky. I didn’t mind sitting through the lackluster affair just because of those guys getting their due.
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day 5/10 | ★ ★