16 November 2009

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz, Peter Fonda
Written & Directed by Troy Duffy
Release date: 31 October 2009 (limited), 13 November 2009 (wide)
Stage 6 Films, 117 mins, Rated R

The saints…are coming, the saints…are coming

Back in May I discovered a movie that people have been going ga-ga over for a decade. 1999’s “The Boondock Saints”, the debut of writer and director Troy Duffy, went largely unnoticed by me, uninterested in the bland covers and furthermore unaffected by the ginormous hype surrounding the flick the past few years. It wasn't until someone sat me down, popcorn in hand, and forced me to watch it; and wouldn't yah know it - within the first 6 minutes, I knew it was a movie that I not only loved, but would be owning in the very immediate future (and I did; bought the Steelbook DVD edition the day after). And, as luck would have it, I found out that a sequel was already in development and would probably be out by the end of the year! (it was)

So, moral of the story, wait 10 years to really get into a much loved movie because by that time a sequel will probably already have been made or be out really, really soon.

Anyway, the day has finally arrived, and "Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" premiered at my local Marcus Theater (much to my utter surprise when surfing through the theater's website; I thought I was going to have to practice patience and wait for the eventual DVD and Blu-Ray release), and [duh], I raced my butt over there right after my lovely Intro to Mass Communications class (read: the media's evil).

The movie begins in a familiar fashion – Duffy’s much treasured fade in and outs accompanied by vocal, chanting-ish music (then followed by some rock music; if nothing else, “All Saints Day” serves as a good jukebox). In Boston, a priest is killing in a manner resembling the Saints, the vigilante group that disappeared without a trace eight years before after the public murder of mafia crime lord Yakavetta. The murder reaches the Saints – Connor and Murphy McManus (Flanery, Reedus), living the peaceful life in Ireland with their Da (Connolly). Immediately, they suit up and travel back to Boston to execute everyone involved in the murder, and cause some “gratuitous violence.” Along the way, they meet up with Romeo (Collins), a spirited kick-ass kind of guy who believes in the Saints and find them just and wants to be a member of the gang; plus he has a few connections that could be useful.

Meanwhile, Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Benz) is on the trail of the Priest’s killer, along with Agents Duffy, Dolly and Greenly. Similar to eight years ago, things get major bloody. It's revealed that the murder of the priest is connected to Concezio Yakavetta (Nelson), son of Joe Yakavetta (said crime lord the Saints executed), who wants the Saints dead out of revenge. But things may not be as they seem, as there's another layer to the killing that no one predicted.

First off: excitement levels were OFF THE CHART walking in and sitting in the theater.
It’s quite evident everyone involved had a bloody BLAST making this flick, and it shows, but unfortunately there’s a overarching feeling that Duffy & Co. are trying too hard to rekindle the awesomeness of the first one.

Returning as the McManus brothers, Flanery and Reedus seem giddy as ever to come back, although they look a tad weary than ten years before. Billy Connolly has a expanded role as their Father, and even factors into the story during its final 30 (although, seen in Godfather Part 2-ish flashbacks, we get a history lesson of Papa McManus, and boy is it good). Basically, just don't mess with this guy - or the family for that matter. Newcomer Clifton Collins, Jr. joins the boys as Romeo, providing more of the funnies as well as a lot of kick-assery. One particularly funny sequence with his character is when he's trying to think of a good final line after a shoot-out. And as for Julie Benz - well, not her best performance, looks a little freaky, frankly. Sirs, if you're interested in this gal, may I refer you to her stint on Angel, specifically the entirety of season 2: to say her every performance in every episode was flabbergasting would not be an understatement.

There are also three surprise appearances that brought a smile to my face; one of them is far too juicy to spoil, but I will say to that one question all "Boondock" fans are asking, it’s a yes, but for a limited time, but it was absolutely awesome. There’s also a cameo from a deceased character that brought a very man-macho moment to the picture (near the last half hour when shit really began to hit the fan), and the appearance of a actor that surprised the hell outta me for being in this. That’s Paul Johansson, infamous for his portrayal as the deliciously wicked Dan Scott in The CW’s “One Tree Hill”. I haven’t been this surprised or giddy about a surprise starring role since Scott Patterson (Luke on The CW’s “Gilmore Girls”) graced the screen in “Saw IV.” Johansson plays the edgy FBI Agent who takes over the Saints investigation and is basically just a hard-ass, something he can do quite well.

You want action? "All Saints Day" has action galore. Although it takes about 30 to 40 mins. for the Saints to do what they do best, it's not until the last 30 really that the action is totally completely awesome. A group of maybe 20 people coming down on the Saints, guns ablazing; the Saints trying to break into a building, inspired by a crazy idea from a movie one of them had seen; a fun and quick bar duel, etc., etc. More action than the first, but sadly not as, well, fun. At least, there wasn't that sense of joy for most of the movie that I felt with the first one; there was more or less of my brain thinking, '2 guys versus 10 of these dudes? How are they NOT shot even ONCE?' But, whatev - hold onto that suspension of disbelief.

As for the script, and basically the whole reason the movie exists: well, it's alright. To start off, I'm going to bring up a point I didn't even think about until I was reading some other reviews. Film.com reviewer mentioned the rather dumb reason the boys go out of retirement and go back to Boston to exact some revenge; indeed, they knew of the priest, they didn't know him personally nor was he important in some way. So, in that respect, the MacGuffin sort of didn't work all that well. There's plenty of callbacks to the first movie, a lot of trying to rekindle the flare that worked so well before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (although the dream sequence with a deceased character was sorta fun).

I did enjoy the sorta possible theme of that whoever the brothers associate with, they put in harms way; but these people make their own choices, and they believe in them and what the boys are doing is good and right, so they continue on regardless of the perils. It's little nuggets like that which I enjoy in vigilante movies that sadly goes mostly unnoticed here.

The interesting thing is that after all the anticipation, I don't have too much to say. The performances were good, the script was good, the music was okay, the editing alright (could be tighter); basically, it was all good. There does seem a sense of overindulging, like Duffy thought himself invincible to a long-ish feel to his movie and possible flat jokes (there's a sorry few), and a lot of music, enough to the point that I thought 'why not make this a music video?' I really don't want to rag on the flick, nor do I wish to cast it in a negative light - there are areas of improvement, but it was, overall, a fun movie-going experience and worth the wait.

So, in the end, “All Saints Day” had its ups and downs, boasts action galore, one helluva movie soundtrack (I’ll have “The Saints Are Coming” stuck in my head for at least two weeks), and the potential of a third installment (fingers crossed, and hopefully another 10 years won’t elapse). Actually, speaking about a third picture, the Wikipedia page mentions a interview with Duffy and Connolly about said third movie, with a tentative working title of "Boondock Saints III: Saints Preserve Us". Duffy & Co., count my ticket already bought.


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