Not-so-original sinners

Ten years later, cult fave Boondock Saints makes improbable comeback

The McManus boys are back in Beantown.

The McManus boys are back in Beantown.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
Starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly. Directed by Troy Duffy. Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 2.0

While it’s not unexpected that The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day exists, it is perplexing that a distributor thought that there was enough demand for the sequel to play the theaters.

But then, it’s rare that a movie has a back-story more entertaining than the movie itself, and 1999’s The Boondock Saints is one of them. A boneheaded exercise in pro-vigilantism propelled by flashy shoot-’em-ups, pitch-black humor and interminable stretches of grab-bag philosophical musings, the film follows a pair of Irish-American twins (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) as they set out to clean up Beantown by spouting biblical passages before capping evildoers in the back of the head.

By no means a good movie, it was still entertaining in its own perplexing way. Since its release on DVD, The Boondock Saints has gained a rabid cult following and an equal army of vehement haters. The Boonies are notable for quoting the movie at length (“It was a firefight!”) and sometimes sporting tats on the hands reading “Veritas” and “Aequitas”, just like the protags. Sorta goofy, sure. But it’s their flesh. And at least it offers a red flag as to who to avoid in casual bar conversation.

The film is also notable for a WTF performance by Willem Dafoe, who swoops in to chew the scenery like a mincing swarm of locusts. Seriously, you wanna see Dafoe in drag? The Boondock Saints has that and more.

The back-story itself is available in a documentary called Overnight, in which a couple of members of manqué-auteur Troy Duffy’s posse document the man’s discovery by the notorious Weinstein brothers, who set out to groom him to be the next Quentin Tarantino by handing the bartender a $15 million budget and a recording contract for his band. What follows is a hefty serving of schadenfreude, as Duffy sets out to test the snapping point of hubris. It’s pretty spectacular stuff.

Cut to 10 years later, where apparently some producer was willing to put up with Duffy’s sociopathic narcissism and fund the sequel. It picks up eight years after the original with the brothers (Flanery and Reedus return to their roles, as well) being baited by the murder of a priest to return to Beantown to pick up where they left off.

What follows is more of the original, and less. The more is long lengths of yammering as Duffy struggles to come up with more quotable lines, and the less is the giddy excess of the original. Nothing in the sequel matches the big “Holy shit!” moment (involving one unfortunate cat); the black humor is more forced; and the shoot-’em-ups are a pale shadow of their antecedents. Everyone in the cast tries to top Dafoe’s eye-rolling emoting from the first, and the twist-’n’-turnabouts of the third act don’t make a lick of sense.

But it is what it is, and fans of the original will probably enjoy a chance to see their heroes spout more Latin and pop copious rounds in slo-mo. Everyone else has better things to do.