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March 23, 2010

Review: Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

The original "Boondock Saints," which was released in 1999 to an extremely limited amount of theaters due to the then recent Columbine shootings, can be argued as a cult classic. The film spread through word of mouth, which is how I and many others first discovered it. Becoming immensely popular, the sequel was in the works for years, delayed mainly to legal difficulties since writer/director Troy Duffy did not own the rights to the first film. Now, ten years later, fans were given...well...not exactly what they had hoped for.

"Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" begins eight years after the events of the first installment. The MacManus brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are hiding out with their father (Billy Connolly) on a sheep farm in Ireland. When news reaches them that a priest in their old stomping grounds has been murdered, and that the crime was set up to look like they had done the job, they come out of retirement to get to the bottom of such an act. Back in Boston, the detectives who aided them in the past film are hoping they won't be discovered by the new FBI agent on the case, Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz, "Dexter"), who is also the protege of the late Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Defoe, the only well-known actor in the first film). We find that the Yakavetta crime family has continued thanks to Concezio (Judd Nelson...yeah...he was John Bender in "The Breakfast Club"), who's father was murdered by The Saints at the end of the first film. On their trip back to the States, the brothers meet Romeo, who is the comic relief sidekick, much like Rocco in the first film. The boys go back after the mob, with help from their old friends, and even some support from Agent Bloom, but they find that orders are coming down from a much higher, more ominous source, which turns out to be a demon from their father's past.

Okay, this film had several problems, and any fans who've been anxious to see how the story continues need to know up front that they can't expect the same quality of film they had last time around. In fact, the original "Boondock Saints" almost seems like a freak occurrence when a movie should have been bad but turned out good. "All Saints Day" holds some inside jokes from the first film, but at this point it seems to make fun of itself. The characters appear to aware of who they are and what they are to the audience, and they play off of it too much. The three detectives who aid the brothers are not regular full time actors, and that shows a lot here. It's like they know how anticipated this movie was and how many people would see it, so they decided to over act like nobody's business and come off trying way too hard to be interesting or funny. Julie Benz, I must add, is at points just awful. Her character has moments that mirror her predecessor as the weird FBI agent to the point where it's like watching the same movie again, but it's not really that interesting anymore. Hell, Rocco is in a dream sequence and his acting is better than hers (though that sequence was not necessary and kind of confused me). Clifton Collins Jr., who plays Romeo, is someone you haven't heard of but have probably seen in strong supporting roles, most notably Oscar-winning film "Capote." His character though was never necessary. Did they have to replace Rocco for comic relief? That's the movies biggest problem. It insists on adding funny moments for the sake of comic relief, when the comedy in the first film was so simple it seemed accidental and enjoyable. "All Saints Day" has moments when it can't decide if it wants to be a comedy or an action film.

The film leads well into what will be a third installment, and my hopes are that it fixes the mistakes they made with this one. There were some clever surprises, as well as predictable plot points, that make "Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" enjoyable if you don't expect a lot out of it. Don't view it as the highly anticipated sequel, but rather pretend it was made all along and you just didn't get around to seeing it. As soon as you finish it though, put on the original and remember why you love these characters. Who knows, maybe the original "Boondock Saints" was just the luck of the Irish, and that luck has run out. Let's hope that's not the case for the next try.

"There's two kinds of people in this world when you boil it all down. You got your talkers and you got your doers."


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