In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, the MacManus brothers jump back into action after a priest is killed in an attempt to draw them out. While the first Boondock Saints employed plenty of action clichés, it was enjoyable to watch the MacManus brothers, a couple of wayward Irish nothings, learn the ropes of vigilantism on their quest to eradicate evil. In the sequel, the brothers are well established heroes and have finely honed their skill, which is one of the film's biggest faults.
Gone is the interesting question of "how does one become a vigilante?" that the first film tackled. I know this question has already been addressed in films like Death Wish, but this was a more lighthearted take on it, involving two guys who have actually seen Death Wish and derive a lot of their knowledge from it. It made the first film a lot of fun. Troy Duffy tries to recapture that feeling by having the brothers act clueless from time to time, especially when creating plans of attack. While these moments can be funny, they don't make a lot of sense. The brothers should know what they're doing by now.
This leads me to another problem I had. It's established as a running joke that Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery)concocts terrible plans. Connor's fraternal twin (and the other half of the Saints) Murphy is well aware of his brother's notoriously bad plans and yet continues to go along with them. It doesn't make any sense from a character standpoint, but from a filmmaking standpoint it allows for a lot of scenes where the one brother berates the other. And while the scenes were somewhat funny, I was too busy wondering why Murphy wasn't putting his foot down and saying no to his brother's terrible planning.
The film feels very self indulgent, which is a dislikable quality. I understand that this is Troy Duffy's triumphant return after The Boondock Saints' release ten years ago, so I didn't need to be reminded while watching it. It's a hard quality to describe, but you get the feeling that Duffy felt he was making the greatest sequel to the greatest film of all time. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your work, but you shouldn't actually let it get in the way of your work. There's a scene early on where Billy Connoly's character Noah is talking up the Saints like they're the baddest kids on the block. This may as well have been Troy Duffy talking to the camera himself. We get it: the Saints are awesome.
The film does have its successes. It's funny, and usually intentionally so. Some of the gags are eye-rolling, but I did laugh out loud on a regular basis. The comedy half of this action/comedy works, it's too bad its other half lets it down. The action is fun to watch, but it isn't anything we haven't seen a hundred times before. The plot is forgettable and the characters are mainly one-note. The dialogue is comprised of one-liners and every character feels as if they're reading from a script. The actors were reading the script, the characters shouldn't be.
And it wasn't until I spoke to a friend about the movie that I realized that the new characters are just replicas of their Boondock Saints counterparts. Julie Benz's Special Agent Bloom replaces Willem Dafoe's Special Agent Paul Smecker and even recreates his larger-than-life personality. Clifton Collins, Jr plays Romeo, a comical third wheel to the Saints, much like David Della Rocco's character from the previous film. Romeo is somewhat of a double-edged sword in the film. His character contributes nothing, but Collins makes him the highlight of the film.
At some point after the halfway mark, the film hits its stride. It's still not great, but it becomes more enjoyable than its shallow setup. Fans of the first one will undoubtedly have to see this, which is what drove me to it, but they will almost assuredly be let down.
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