Back around '99-00, I remember seeing huge window ads at the local Blockbuster for something called The Boondock Saints, and while I recognized the names, it didn't really get me interested. Then a friend of a friend raved about it a couple of years later, and around that time, Ain't It Cool News had an article about a sequel. A sequel? Well, I had no idea what a fuckin' cult juggernaut this Boondock flick was. So I went ahead and took a chance and bought the uncut Japanese version from eBay (at the time, that was the only version that was untainted by the MPAA) and checked it out.
I dug it, man. It was a lot of fun and I got a kick out of the characters. Over the years, as word kept coming and going on a possible sequel, I discovered something else that bothered me (via the Internet, of course). Apparently, being a fan of this movie makes you as bad as a fuckin' Juggalo, because in the eyes of the hipsters, not only is the movie a piece of shit, but the people who like the movie as well. Many a commenter on AICN or the AV Club would say things like If I found out my friend liked The Boondock Saints, I wouldn't want to be friends with him or her anymore. Wow. I don't understand that kind of sentiment; I think it's safe to say that I'm as nutty a movie fanatic as possible, but I've never hated on someone for liking something I straight up abhorred. I've felt upset at not digging a movie the way everyone else dug, but that's more I Wish I Saw The Same Movie and not at all Fuck You For Not Having My Opinion.
Even the motherfuckers who made that fuckin' Paul Blart: Mall Cop a box-office behemoth, I don't hold a grudge against. Shit, if that shit floats your boat, then god bless ya. Then you got those that go, Hey, fuck that guy Troy Duffy, he's a piece of shit as a human being. Look, I saw Overnight and I know that the director's probably a supreme asshole dickbag, but if you're gonna use the director's personality to judge a film's worthiness, then be prepared to start reading a lot more books. Do you get what I'm trying to say here? Probably not, because I'm an idiot who really liked The Boondock Saints and what are you doing hanging with me?
So, the filmmakers finally got their legal troubles settled and we now have a sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (almost beating out Excessive Force II: Force on Force as my favorite redundant movie title). If you haven't seen the first one, in short, it was about two Irish brothers who start going Death Wish on criminals in the city of Boston. By the end, I felt like I had watched an origin story and the follow-up would be purely about the continuing ownage of evil men by the "Saints". It didn't turn out that way, because when we're reintroduced to the brothers McManus and their father, we see that they are now raising sheep on a farm in Ireland. It appears they went into hiding shortly after the events of the first film, on the run not only from the U.S. authorities, but from soap, razors and clean clothes.
Back in Boston (played by Toronto), some old priest gets assassinated in the same manner the Saints used to take out many a bad guy; double taps to the back of the head, then leaving pennies over the dead guy's eyes. Once the McManus bros get wind of this news, they stowaway on a cargo ship (do people still do that shit in the 21st century? just wondering) and head back to Beantown to take out anyone remotely responsible. Meanwhile, both the Boston police and the criminal underground are scratching their heads wondering if the dead priest is really the work of the Saints. They each have their own reasons for being worried; the Mafia guys are afraid of being attacked and three detectives are freaked the fuck out that their simpatico connection to the Saints will be discovered and it'll be slammer-time for them.
Willem Dafoe was in the last one, portraying a brilliant and queer (in both senses of the word) FBI agent investigating the Saints murders. This time, instead of Dafoe, the sausage fest that is the main cast is made slightly less pork by casting Julie Benz as a brilliant and queer (in only one sense of the word) FBI agent investigating the possible Saints murder. This Benz chick has been carving (pun!) herself quite a niche in anything resembling cool and violent; Rambo, Punisher War Zone, one of those Saw movies, and two shows I never watched but are supposedly among the Greatest Shows Ever Made Oh My God I Can't Believe You've Never Seen It -- Dexter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Anyway, she's really good here and she's pretty hot for a woman in her forties. Except she's in her mid-thirties.
See, that's something about this movie that I noticed right off the bat -- everybody has aged like a motherfucker here. In the case of Benz, it's probably the harsh lighting employed by the relatively gritty cinematography they went with for the sequel (the first one had a more slick and classical look, which I preferred). Sean Patrick Flanery was a good-looking motherfucker but here it looks like he got into the same car accident as Rose McGowan, the kind of car accident that involves getting into your car and driving over to a clinic for a particular kind of surgery. Norman Reedus could only look 19 for so long before time caught up with him and stapled those sag bags under his eyes. Bob Marley (the comedian, not the dead reggae singer) probably works a lot of late night clubs. The only one who aged well is Billy Connolly, and that's probably because he made the decision to look old back when he was still relatively young. The movie takes place eight years after the first one, but they could've got away with eighteen.
Clifton Collins Jr. has had a great fuckin' year in the '09; he got to fuck up the Enterprise's shit with Eric Bana, he chain-whipped the hell out of Jason Statham, but most importantly, he got to hook up with Amy Adams and Mila Kunis and all he had to do to swing that was lose an arm and a testicle. Now here he is playing Romeo, a guy helping out the Saints in hopes of becoming a part of the team. He's pretty funny as this sort of combination badass motherfucker and overly emotional weepy bastard.
Romeo's also subject to the occasional joke made at the expense of his Mexican heritage. But that's okay, as long as they're funny and besides, there are jokes made at the expense of the Irish, Italian, gays, and I think that's it, actually. Surprisingly, the Chinese get off pretty easy and are only violently killed -- it's like the anti-Crank.
While the brothers are out doing their thing, father Noah (known as the badass Il Duce in the original) stays in Ireland to keep the home fires burning. It is during these occasional cutaways to him that we're treated to flashbacks of his past reminiscent of The Godfather Part II. We see young Noah as he makes his living helping his father at a leather factory, and I guess you can see where this is going, but I don't give a fuck whether I can see that shit coming or not, I still enjoyed watching it happen.
On the whole sons and fathers tip, the sequel also introduces us to the son of the Mafia don from the last movie. He's played by Judd Nelson, and if the mere mention of his name does nothing for you, then I can't fuckin' help you and should leave you be. Jay minus Silent Bob said it best, calling this motherfucker "way harsh". He's not in the movie as much as I'd like him to be, but it was fun to see him do his thing whenever he had an opportunity. It's even better because he's overacting and overacting is the name of the game in Boondockland. You can't overact? Then you're not welcome here.
I don't know how seriously Troy Duffy takes this shit, I mean, past the whole "kill 'em all" wish fulfillment deal, I don't know how much more of this is meant to be taken beyond It's Awesome To Watch Motherfuckers Get Owned, and I really don't care. The way I see it, this is like watching a comic book movie and I'm not talking about The Dark Knight or Road to Perdition, where that shit is played as real world as possible, I mean more like Darkman or Punisher: War Zone where the rules of reality don't apply in this motherfucker and people act like they have dialogue bubbles hanging over their heads, complete with bold letters and underlines. Shit, if you did with this movie what they (unfortunately) did with the director's cut of The Warriors by adding comic book frames in between scenes, it wouldn't feel out of place. Also, I know Darkman was not based on a comic book, but it might as well have been.
I'll be honest though, the first 30-40 minutes of this flick were downright terrible. It was hard to sit through and it got to the point where I thought I was watching not only a shitty sequel but the worst movie of the year. It was suffering from many problems; it was dull, it was desperately trying to be funny when it didn't have to be, the pacing was way the fuck off, and worst of all, it was suffering from sequelitis. I'm talking about the kind of sequel that not only rehashes the same shit from the last one, but then continually makes cute references and callbacks to the first movie. Remember the way Agent Smecker was introduced in the first one? Well, here's the same exact thing but with a woman! It just wouldn't stop and I wouldn't have been surprised if Bruce Willis popped up and said "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?" All right, I'd be a little surprised if that actually happened.
But then, somewhere after that tough first and 1/4 acts, the film turns on a dime and actually stops becoming a rehash and starts getting real about becoming a goddamn true sequel. It happens around the moment a particular character's confesses his or her true motivations, and it was like Duffy purposely was leading us on, making us think that the worst case scenario was happening with this movie, all before stepping in, blowing cigarette smoke in faces and going "Uh-uh, faggots. You gay faggots thought this was gonna be some more of the same faggy shit, huh? Nope, I know what the fuck I'm doing, queerbait, because I'm not a gay faggot." Then he'd turn up House of Pain and show off his shitty Fighting Irish tattoo for the 16th time. Because Overnight notwithstanding, something tells me Troy Duffy probably talks and acts like that in real life. He's probably called more people gay then there are gay people in the entire country.
ADDENDUM IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SHIT AFTER THE FACT: In the interest of full disclosure, I'm making all these fucked up jokes about the guy, but I actually met him and his producer Chris Brinker at a Best Buy, back in December '02. My buddy and I were looking at the Boondock DVD's, and my friend was going to buy one for himself. Some dude walks up to us and introduces himself as one of the producers, then tells us that the director is in the next aisle. They had been buying movies as stocking stuffers for friends. He asked if we wanted to meet him. Holy shit, we thought, this could be awesome or this could be how guys in their early 20's get kidnapped and sold to white slavery (or brown slavery, in my case). But there he was, Troy Duffy, and he was really nice, actually. Not an ounce of asshole on him. He offered to sign our DVD's, so of course I bought one, even though I had the uncut Japanese version at home. He used his pocket knife to tear open the plastic from the DVD cases, and on mine he wrote "VERITAS AQUITAS" and the first couple lines from the Latin prayer. On my friend's copy he wrote "Keep it stiff". So that's my Troy Duffy story. I can't speak for everyone else, but he was nice to me and my buddy. And here I am, talking shit about him on a blog. But nobody reads this blog, so it all evens out.
From a certain point on, you (if you're me) start getting into the movie and start digging the proceedings instead of wishing them to end. The rest of the film won me over; the story started to catch my interest, the pacing started to flow right, the jokes started to get funny, and only traces of sequelitis remained in the system (the slow-mo gunfights, the dramatizations of what the agent thinks happened at the crime scene). But those traces were acceptable because it felt more like the kind of stuff that was put there because the fans expect it, not because it was Duffy being lazy. Kinda like how every James Bond movie needs a pre-credit sequence and every Star Wars movie needs a space dogfight and every Pixar movie needs an emotional moment that makes you want to cry in the theater and embarrass yourself because the Pixar people are evil sadistic bastards who want to fuck your shit up and I HAVEN'T FORGIVEN YOU FOR WHAT ALMOST HAPPENED TO ME WHEN I SAW UP, MOTHERFUCKERS! Those aren't comparisons, by the way, just the best examples, so calm down and have a drink or a smoke or something. I really wish Duffy didn't feel the need to give the Benz character what basically amounted to her version of "There was a FIREFIGHT!", that was kinda douchechilly.
Anyway, it comes out to about 1/3 of a shit movie and 2/3 of quality shit. The stuff you expect to see in a Boondock movie is here in spades; motherfuckers get owned, off-color remarks are made, actors overact with terrible accents and a guy shits himself if you like that sort of thing. There are a couple of genuinely awesome lines, quite a few hilarious ones, and plot-wise, Duffy pulls out the occasional ace in the hole -- particularly near the end, and boy is it a beaut. There are also moments in this movie that I would go as far to say have Fuck All to do with the plot but were put in there because maybe Duffy figured he might never have the chance to do so again. My favorite such example is a dream sequence where a character basically gives a speech on how men have to take their balls back and de-pussify themselves.
It suffers from those godawful opening 30-40 minutes and a cheaper look (larger scope in story with only a slightly larger budget to tell it), but aside from that (and that darned sequelitis) I'd say that by the end credits, the flick worked its way to becoming about as entertaining as its predecessor. Was the first one a classic? No fucking way. But it was Good Times, and overall, so was this one. I left happy to see this sequel and look forward to a Boondock Saints III: The Saints Go Marching In if Duffy decides to make another one. Non-fans need not apply and can instead stick to making snarky comments on some message board about those of us who dig this shit.
P.S. I apologize to any Juggalos out there for what I said earlier. I was just trying to make a point, I wasn't being as judgmental as the Boondock Saints detractors. I've never heard an ICP song, but I'm sure they're fine musicians and I'd probably like their stuff so much that I would go out and paint myself in that stupid clown makeup which is all I'd need to complete the look since I'm already fat and stinky. Peace.
3 days ago