Boondock Saints 2 is a Boondoggle of Crapola
Review by Throwback
If you’re Catholic and/or Irish and under the age of 35 or so, chances are you saw the first Boondock Saints movie. It was a big cult hit for the at-large public. For a lot of Irish-Catholics, it became something of a modern fable on par with William Tell, Zorro, or Robin Hood. The portrayal of vigilantes (the MacManus Brothers) drinking at the pub then executing criminals whilst praying in Latin was something that few of our demographic could resist, and that was before the film forced you to consider whether or not the two hours of bloodshed you’d seen was actually a good thing. There were epic debates in college dorm rooms across the country about this, so it wasn’t like the whole project was about exotic ways of people getting shot. There was some depth there. And the toilet scene remains a classic, like the movie itself.
I wish I could say the same about the sequel.
The second movie begins with the execution of a Boston priest much beloved by Connor and Murphy MacManus. It’s been seven years since they took on the Yakkavetta mobsters, and they’ve been living as shepherds with their father back in Ireland. Naturally, once they find out about the murder, retirement is no longer an option. We are in full-blown revenge mode within the movie’s first five minutes. This is not a bad thing; they are joined in this quest by Romeo (played by Clifton Collins, Jr.), a Mexican criminal seeking purpose. I’m not sure we ever actually figure out a purpose for him, other than comic relief. The only other meaningful cast member is Julie Benz, who most might know from Angel or Dexter, taking Willem Dafoe’s role and working one of the worst Southern accents I’ve heard. It’s Nicolas Cage bad. And that's means its terrible.
There’s your synopsis. As I’ve already mentioned, it just didn’t quite work. Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus are still great as the Brothers MacManus. As you can imagine, it certainly wasn’t a boring movie. There was action aplenty, and it was all well-done. What wasn’t well-done was the decision to try and be funny every other line. There’s nothing wrong with comedy in an action film. To the contrary, it’s typically a requirement for my enjoyment and was properly present in the original Boondock Saints. What’s not good is when the comedy takes over everything else. The Romeo character, the appearance by Rocco (the sidekick in Part One), the engagements between Benz and the police, etc. all fell flat for me. And they just kept coming. They wouldn’t stop. This repeatedly tainted the film. Every time I found myself settling in and liking what I was seeing, someone would unleash another poor attempt at humor.
There is some additional affliction upon revelation of the main villain, but if you could overlook the similar problem in the original, this won’t bother you much.
As an action movie in the same mold as the first, this could have worked extremely well. We know this because it worked in the first Boondock Saints. Unfortunately, the final result is a pretty run-of-the-mill shoot ‘em up saturated with below-average comedy. The whole thing is buoyed by Flannery and Reedus’s work and the characters they bring to life, but that’s just enough to be okay. Even the thought-provoking elements have been stripped away. Whereas before, it was an open question as to whether the Saints were virtuous or vicious, they are clearly the good guys here, which robs the film of the "moral dilemma" quality found in the first movie. Regardless of your personal views on the subject, the fact that people are asked to at least think about it is a good thing. Too many take vigilantism as some sort of absolute good. They should have to reflect on why they hold this opinion. Needless to say, there will be no epic debates for Boondock Saints II, except perhaps to argue over whether or not there should be a Part III (director Troy Duffy has suggested that there may be a Boondock Saints III in the works, or that the franchise may develop into a television program. God preserve us).
On the decency scale, you can guess about the language; drunk Irish vigilantes don’t mind their tongues. In fact, there might be more f-bombs than bullets. I don’t recall any blasphemy, though. There is male nudity, and, of course, violence all over the place. If you really liked the first movie, watch this one as a continuation of the story. If you hated the first one, I fully expect you to hate this one even more. Since I really liked the first one, I’ll give it 1 ½ tiaras.