Published Nov 12, 2009The Boondock Saints is somewhat of an anomaly, having only opened in five theatres in 1999, grossing roughly 20,000, before going on to cult VHS and DVD status via word-of-mouth and train wreck curiosity for those familiar with the controversies surrounding director Troy Duffy.
The film was a mediocre vigilante gunplay exemplum of the late '90s — overly stylized, posturing, with a dose of extremist white Christian intolerance, reducing folks of different persuasions to caricatures. But what really gave the film its buzz was Duffy's reported egomania, with him blowing up at studio execs, slamming A-list actors and tossing out Anti-Semitic remarks, documented in Overnight.
A decade later, with no additional film credits in the interim, Duffy somehow managed to get financial backing for a sequel, which one might assume would demonstrate some sort of growth and maturity, but alas, it doesn't. Here, Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) start out as bearded sheepherders in Ireland, only to return to Boston to enact vengeance when they hear of a beloved priest being murdered. With gay detective Willem Dafoe out of the picture, Julie Benz picks up the slack as special agent Eunice Bloom.
Plot machinations are a moot point, as this is a film of slow-motion violence and blaring techno music, with chronologically playful murder sequences. Religious iconography screeches around every frame, reminding us that the Lord hates gays, women and Mexicans almost as much as our bigoted Irish protagonists do. This is a film strictly for those that get excited when the art of killing is aestheticized like a '90s car commercial, despite Michael Haneke's cinematic pleas to make it stop.
Of course, standing back and keeping in mind what fans of the original are looking for, Boondock Saints II is indeed a partial success, as it offers more of the same but with slightly better pacing. It's just a shame that it's little more than a desultory exercise in insecure filmmaking, brimming with boundless hatred. (Maple)