(2009) dir. Troy Duffy
A long time coming, and in some ways almost surprising that it came at all, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is the sequel to the 1999 film The Boondock Saints, both written and directed by Troy Duffy. The original film is a good slice of late 1990’s indie cinema, a sort of genre picture, bubbling with strange characters, surprising twists, and violence in amplitude. And really, the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the story itself, captured in the documentary Overnight (2003) which followed the rise and fall of Duffy through the production of the film. And at the end of it, you had to wonder if anyone would ever work with him again.
Well, not only did he get this film made, but he actually managed to get all the primary actors back to reprise their roles. The first film followed the happenstances that led to two Irish brothers becoming “the saints”, self-created vigilantes, inspired by Catholocism and vengeance to bring all of the mafia baddies in Boston to meet their makers and becoming cult heroes. And like the brothers, the characters became cult favorites. So in returning to the screen, the brothers must be brought back to wreak more of their violent righteousness upon the heads of all the villains in Boston.
But really, the story is pretty damn convoluted. Not that the first story wasn’t pretty convoluted, but it sort of spun as it was happening, so you thought it through less perhaps. The sequel gives backstory to the boys’ father, Billy Connolly, and his initiation into the world of vengeful retribution. And seeds of the past are meant to be reaped in the events that bring the boys back from Ireland to bring another wave of destruction on the city. A Catholic priest is murdered in a church in the style of the boys’ crimes, meant to imply their responsibility and to affront their sense of rightness and make them come back to kill.
But the film, unlike its predecessor, lacks the the elements that made it work. One could say that it’s the je ne sais quoi that is missing, sense the film is populated with lots of “characters” and quirks and comic elements, fuck-filled dialogue, but this time most things go “clunk”. The timing and cleverness aren’t there and the script goes for so many wild rants and analogies about brutal anal sex that you squirm more in just hearing the writer at his work, trying to come up with more wild catchphrases and striving painfully to be funny.
Duffy clearly sets himself up for yet another sequel with the ways that the story leaves off. I don’t know if he’ll get to make it or not, but I hope that he manages to find whatever little element that he lost between these two films.
The actress Julie Benz caught my eye. She plays the new FBI special agent assigned to the Saints’ case. She’s nattily-clad and sexy, given the role of the hot and smart detective. And it’s clear that Duffy expects our tongues to be lolling on the floor over her like we’re wolves in a Tex Avery cartoon. And I did a little, but then the way he shoots her gets more and more obvious and over-the-top (not gratuitously sexual, but just gratuitous). The camera lingers on her longer and longer as wind machines blow her hair as she struts through a gun fight sequence. This is perhaps some sort of exemplar of Duffy’s problem. He’s a little too aware of what he’s got that is strong and tries to give more and more of it even when it’s not necessary. Like this sequel, perhaps.