DVDs in Review (Film Edition): Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day

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Around eight years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a film that he described as "something you've just got to watch". He told me that it was called 'The Boondock Saints' and said he'd bring it around to watch on DVD. I must admit to being a little put off by the title as I wasn't sure what to expect from that film title.

So it would be fair to say that when I finally sat down to watch the film I wasn't expecting that much from it, but, to cut a long story short, I was blown away by the film in a matter of minutes. The Boondock Saints combined fun dialog, great characters and superb action into a film that dealt with it's subject matter in a lighthearted manner. It wasn't a perfect creation by any means, but it's easy to see why the film has established cult status for itself.

It's ten years since the original movie first came out, and All Saints Day is the surprising sequel. I say surprising because The Boondock Saints was a somewhat complete creation in itself, it was left slightly open ended but without any plot threads hanging at all, and as time passed I'd just assumed that was it.

All Saint's Day returns to the MacManus brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery - who I loved watching in The Dead Zone), Murphy (Norman Reedus) along with their father (Billy Connolly) who are now living an idyllic life after their accidental vigilante rampage. They were previously assisted in their disappearance by Detective Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe); who has sadly passed away - a genuine shame, because Dafoe's performance in the first film was one of the greatest elements of it.

The two lads have their peaceful beard growing existence in Ireland is shattered when a priest is murdered in Boston, executed in a similar fashion to the way they killed criminals during their own spree. It's enough to force them into cutting their hair, shaving their beards and heading back for retribution. On the way they meet a diminutive Mexican named Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.) who teams up with them for the excitement.

In Boston itself the police are investigating the murder, Detective's Greenly, Duffy and Dolly (all returning from the first movie) are terrified that their involvement with the Saints will be uncovered by the investigation. An investigation headed by the southern belle Eunice (Julie Benz), a woman with powers of deduction that are nearly the equal of Smeckers.

The two story lines twist around each other much like the first movie, with Eunice providing the flashbacks that tell the story of how each encounter between the mafia and the Saints unfolded. Just like the first film, these story lines converge together before the end. But there is also a third story, initially told in simple flashbacks, and it's that story which comes to the forefront as the film progresses.

Connor and Murphy are as interchangeable as always, neither individual has much character - existing as little more than implements of revenge, snarky dialog and exciting set pieces. But the other characters surrounding them, especially Romeo, Eunice and Poppa (Connelly) more than make up for this, in fact the shallow nature of the Saints is essential to the story of both films; they're Irish, they fight, they kill criminals, they berate each other repeatedly. That's all you need from them, they don't require extra depth.

Romeo fills the role that Rocco did in the original movie, he's the offbeat comedy sidekick and in some ways he actually fills the role out with more success than Rocco did. His description of his plan to assault a drug warehouse is just unbelievably funny, made even funnier when it's contrasted against the reality of the plan unfolding.

All Saints Day has the same brilliant crude, hilarious dialog combined with fast, exciting action and the religious imagery of the first film. In fact it doesn't even try to evolve from beyond the first movie's premise for around two thirds of it, and that's where it's at his best. When Connor, Murphy and Romeo are bickering with each other the strengths of the script shine and you'll find it laugh out loud hilarious.

But, it is fair to say that this movie is not as strong as the original one was, a large part of that is due to the huge gap left by Dafoe and David Della Rocco, both of whom played characters not present in the second film. Rocco does makes a reappearance in a strange dream sequence that is funny, it's totally redundant to the main part of the film and seems to be little more than an independent rant/speech put in because Troy Duffy wanted to give Rocco a part in the film and had something he wanted to say about being a man. It's a great piece to watch, but after it's over you are left wondering "what the heck was that about?"

The film is also a lot better in the earlier acts, the original Boondock Saints had this problem as well. They both start out as a hilarious tongue in cheek vigilante action movie and then turn serious near the end. It's the serious section where the films struggle to maintain interest, in the first one that's just the last half an hour or so, but in All Saints Day it's more like a third of the film that turns serious.

But, having said that I did thoroughly enjoy All Saints Day and I'm eagerly anticipating a third movie in the franchise. Because where would we be without our fecking rope?

So I can give The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day a hearty recommendation for everyone who enjoyed the first movie. And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favour and get both of these films on DVD.


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