Monday, November 16, 2009

Movie Review: The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day *
Directed By:
Troy Duffy.
Written By: Troy Duffy.
Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery (Connor MacManus), Norman Reedus (Murphy MacManus), Billy Connolly (Poppa M), Clifton Collins Jr. (Romeo), Julie Benz (Special Agent Eunice Bloom), Peter Fonda (The Roman), Paul Johansson (Rick), Judd Nelson (Concezio Yakavetta), David Della Rocco (Rocco), Bob Marley (Detective Greenly), Brian Mahoney (Detective Duffy), David Ferry (Detective Dolly), Gerard Parkes (Doc), Richard Fitzpatrick (The Chief).

I have to admit that I have not seen the original Boondock Saints since its debut on video in 1999 when the clerk at the video store I went to told me I had to see the movie because it was so “cool”. I do remember liking the movie, especially Willem Dafoe’s wacked out performance, but thinking that was just another Tarantino knockoff and that it wasn’t all that special. I’d seen better in the genre, and I’d seen worse, and I promptly forgot about the movie. Then it became a major cult movie hit – apparently many video store guys were talking about how cool the movie was – but I never really felt the need to revisit the movie again. Once was enough for me.

But when the sequel was announced, I oddly anticipated the movie with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. In the decade since the movie came out, writer/director Troy Duffy had done nothing, and with the release of 2003 documentary Overnight, about the making of Boondock Saints, it became clear that Duffy was an egomaniacal asshole with no real talent, but a willingness to buy into his own “legend”. But I was determined to give the movie a fair shake when it came out. I think I did. It is no exaggeration to say that Boondock Saints is probably the worst written and directed movie I have seen in a movie theater this year. And if it wasn’t for the strange, wacked out performances by Clifton Collin, Julie Benz and in much smaller roles Billy Connelly, Peter Fonda and Judd Nelson, it would easily be the worse acted movie as well. Even their performances aren’t really good, but I have to admit that they were interesting. They were at least trying to do something interesting, even if they were undone by the screenplay. Seriously, you have to give Benz credit for saying a line like “I am so fucking smart I make smart people feel fucking retarded” without breaking out into laughter.

In the decade since the Saints, brothers Connor and Murphy McManus (Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) last rampage through Boston, they have spent their time as sheep farmers in Ireland, growing beards much like their fathers. But then someone kills a priest in Boston, and uses the Saints signature – pennies over the eyes – to try and frame the brothers. Word travels to Ireland extremely quickly, and the boys travel to Boston ever quicker to try and figure out what happened. On the boat ride over, they meet a Mexican named Romeo (Clifton Collins), who recognizes them and quickly becomes part of their crew. He is there go to lackey, for everything they need.

The FBI sends Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Benz), a protégé of Dafoe’s Steckler who has since died, to investigate. She teams up with Boston Detectives Greenly, Duffy and Dolly, who conspired with the brothers all those years ago, and are nervous about being indicted if the truth comes out. Bloom has fun with them for a while, making them think she is an enemy, when really she isn’t.

Of course, everything was a ploy to try and draw the brothers out of hiding. For what reason, we don’t know, but we do know that Concezio Yakavetta (Judd Nelson), is behind it. He is the son of the Saints last victim who the executed in the courtroom at the climax of the first movie, and he seems to want vengeance. Why he waited so long, only becomes clear as the movie progresses.

There are few things more painful for me when watching a movie than listening to someone try and copy Tarantino’s brilliant pop culture infused dialogue, and failing miserably. And Duffy, it must be said, doesn’t even come close in this movie. He tries so hard to be clever in the movie, but the dialogue is utterly awful and forgettable. Worse still, he doesn’t really seem like he knows what he is doing behind the camera either. Maybe the first film’s visual look worked better because no one actually saw the film in a theater – only on video – but blown up to a big screen, it looks awful. Random cuts and slow motion, weird transitions and camera angles, Duffy simply has no idea what the hell he is doing. For the first little while in the movie it is painful to watch and listen to this movie.

But I have to admit that after that first 30 minutes, when I realized that the movie was beyond being salvaged, I kind of had fun watching it. It’s not the movie got better as it went along – if anything things only got worse – but the movie was so bad, in so many ways, that it became one of those so bad it’s entertaining movies. I can see this movie becoming one of those films that a bunch of guys get together, get drunk and mock. It is one of those movies. So, if you liked the original Boondock Saints, don’t expect this movie to be any better. And wait for video, invite a bunch of guys over, buy a case a beer and have fun. Trust me, it’s the only way you will have any fun watching this utterly horrible movie.

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