BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus,
Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz, Judd Nelson, Peter Fonda, Billy Connolly
Director: Troy Duffy
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2010
“You ready for this s*it, my dear brother?”
“Let’s do some gratuitous violence.”
Other than Donnie Darko, no other film in recent memory has enjoyed a true cult phenomenon status than 1999’s The Boondock Saints. It is literally a film that went from being nothing to an incredible something in just a few years time. How many other movies have gone from being a $25,000 grossing theatrical release to a title that has made north of $40 million since its release on DVD?
The movie told the tale of Irish brothers Connor McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus). After receiving what appears to be a message from God, the two take it upon themselves to wipe out all evil forces plaguing the streets of Boston. Their vigilante work attracts the attention, and unexpected admiration, of an uber eccentric FBI agent (Willem Dafoe).
I enjoyed the film quite a bit, but I have never really understood the overly obsessive fan base it generated. To me, it’s not that much different from any other vigilante movie, which leads me to believe that the ones who love it a little too much just haven’t seen all those other vigilante movies. What I enjoyed most about the movie were the many sequences showing the brothers carrying out their work in flashback form as the cops are trying to piece together everything at the crime scene, not to mention Willem Dafoe’s incredibly bizarre performance.
Nevertheless, the immense cult status and mind blowing DVD sales ended up justifying a sequel a decade later. That brings us to The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which isn’t so much a sequel as it is pure fan service on behalf of Troy Duffy, meaning that if you are a true die hard fan of the first movie, chances are you are going to love this one just as much if not more. Since I fall into the group of those who simply “liked” the first one, All Saints Day has nothing significant to offer me, and is thus nothing more than the first movie done again with a bigger budget.
The story does, however, pick up after the events of the first movie. Connor and Murphy (both donning what have to be the most fake looking beards to be seen in any recent movie) are hiding out in the Ireland countryside along with their father, Noah (Billy Connolly). But when they hear that a Boston priest has been executed in a style directly similar to theirs, thus framing them for the murder, the brothers McManus decide that revenge must be taken.
They climb aboard a freight ship headed for the States. While on board, they pick up an unexpected ally in the form of Romeo (Clifton Collins, Jr.), who is one of their many fans. He is more than eager to become the third Saint, even though he’s Mexican and not Irish, but never mind.
The biggest letdown for me is the fact that ten years have passed since the last movie, and yet the screenplay for All Saints Day literally does nothing in terms of expanding the story, or trying anything new for that matter. This is one of those sequels where just about everything echoes something similar in its predecessor. It’s as if Duffy seemed incapable of doing anything but repeating what he’d done before.
For example, there’s a new FBI agent on the Saints’ trail, now that Dafoe’s character has somehow passed on, in the form of Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz, armed with one hell of a bad southern accent). She’s pretty much the Dafoe character from the first movie, except that she’s female and has one hell of a bad southern accent. She starts as their pursuer and before long becomes a sympathizer.
There are a few saving graces in the movie, most notably in one spectacular action sequences where the brothers swing by rope through building glass, and wipe out an entire room of thugs while sliding on their knees. Flanery and Reedus are still quite fun and charismatic in their signature roles. And there’s some damn fine supporting work from both Clifton Collins, Jr. (who is saddled with all of the movie’s best one liners) and Billy Connolly as the Saints’ father.
But in the end, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is a movie made strictly for the hardcore fans of the 1999 original, and who won’t object much to the notion that this is basically a retread of the first movie but with a bigger budget. As much as I wanted to enjoy it, I couldn’t help but be bored by it. The film’s final moments indicate a third installment might happen somewhere down the line. I can only hope that Duffy injects more life into that one.
Sony does a most commendable job with this film’s Blu-ray presentation. Fans of the first movie, which itself got a most terrific BD release, will notice a much more slick and polish look this time around. Image detail is downright terrific, even during indoor set pieces and scenes set at night, of which there are plenty of. Skin tones are picture perfect and the colors are nicely handled. Not a hugely mind-blowing HD presentation, but one that does deliver nonetheless.
The DTS HD mix is just what a movie like this needs, and it does indeed deliver in every possible department. The shootouts are hard-hitting, as is the techno music beat that accompanies the action. Dialogue delivery is of top notch quality, no matter what the accent is (there are many on display here). And most importantly, the balance between them all is as perfect as it can be.
Boondock fans will definitely be pleased by the extras that Sony has loaded onto this Blu-ray. We get two commentary tracks; one with writer/director Troy Duffy and actors Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly and one with Duffy and Willem Dafoe, which was most surprising to find. Both commentaries are intriguing and quite hilarious listens. There’s also Deleted Scenes, multiple featurettes including “Unprecedented Access: Behind the Scenes” and “Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy: Unedited”, as well as three BD exclusive extras; “Inside the Vault: The Weapons”, “The Cast Confesses: Secrets from the Set” and “The Boondock Saints Hit Comic-Con”.
While it will definitely satisfy hardcore fans who are just hungry for more, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day doesn’t really offer much for anyone else, even those who simply liked the first movie. It has its moments, but they are overshadowed by a lack of action, slow pacing and too much echoing of the much better predecessor.