Troy Duffy has been promising for years that the Saints would again come marching in, but for a while it looked like Halley’s Comet would show up before a sequel. After a limited theatrical release last fall, “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” hits wide distribution via the home video market, proving the boys are back in town-albeit in a film that focuses more on plot instead of stylized carnage. Worth the decade long wait, “Boondock Saints II” is as potent as Irish whiskey.
The MacManus brothers have retired to a quiet valley in Ireland, living the simple life of farmers. But men like these can never indulge in simple lives for long, and a brutal murder of a beloved priest brings them back to Boston to mete out bloody justice. But this is not just a simple street killing, it’s part of an elegant plan devised by a shadowy mobster known as The Roman to bring his former partner out of hiding and into a final confrontation. An elegant plan is exactly what is required since the former partner is the vicious hitman known as Il Duce, father to The Saints who’ve taken to their father’s profession like corn beef to cabbage. The secrets of Il Duce are finally revealed, as well as a final shootout that pits the heroes against a small army of mobsters.
It’s fairly amazing how Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery slip back into the role of the MacManus brothers with ease, as if the first film just wrapped an hour ago. They capture sibling dynamics to a T; they squabble, rag on each other-but are fiercely loyal to each other and are so close even a casual glance can communicate volumes. As Il Duce, Billy Connelly has little do for most of the film, but his scenes with The Roman pack an emotional wallop of betrayal. The look in Connelly’s eyes when he learn his former partner and confident was using his vigilante crusade to climb his way up the mafia ladder are a cocktail of aching hurt, deep sadness, fury and eventually regret. The fact that guns are shortly draw indicate forgiveness hadn’t made the mix.
Julie Benz does an excellent turn as a self assured FBI agent sent to investigate the possible return of The Saints, but she’s not all that she appears. A protege of Agent Paul Smecker, her role is to keep the brothers out of prison and out doing what they do best. Clifton Collins Jr. doesn’t fare as well as the third wheel of the act, his character always comes across as slightly high strung and trying too hard to be comic relief. There’s no doubting he has the courage to back his convictions, but he winds up looking like Jimi Hendrix playing for Led Zeppelin-he’s just in the wrong band. Peter Fonda does a dignified turn as The Roman; all his immaculate manicuring can’t hide he’s a man to be feared and commands respect. Despite having died in the previous film, David Della Rocco makes a small cameo in a dream sequence sure to rile up anyone who follows the philosophy of Robert Bly. Judd Nelson shows up as a mob boss, at the very least to prove he’s alive and capable of working.
The sequel clocks in at nearly two hours, but it barely feels like it. The tale of the brothers returning to US soil and getting back in action is intriguing enough, so much so you barely notice bullets don’t fly until an hour into it. There’s less gunplay than before and the violence seems a bit muted; Troy Duffy and Taylor Duffy have a story to tell and it’s a fairly entertaining one. Il Duce was a character who seemed to just appear in the first film with scant backstory, so it’s nice to learn what demons drove him and how he used by the very thing he fought against. Cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak allows the rich hues of the surroundings to illuminate the action, resulting in a film more gorgeous than it has a right to be.
The film sets things up for another sequel, presumably one in which the brothers take their game to a higher level with the possible backing of the Vatican. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another ten years for “Boondock Saints III”, the possibilities we’re left to imagine are amazingly tantalizing. Until then, we have a worthy sequel to console us during the wait, and one that nary disappoints even mild fans.
Troy Duffy (director) / Troy Duffy (screenplay)
CAST: Sean Patrick Flanery … Connor MacManus
Norman Reedus … Murphy MacManus
Billy Connolly … Il Duce
Clifton Collins Jr. … Romeo
Julie Benz … Eunice Bloom
Peter Fonda … The Roman
Judd Nelson … Concezio Yakavetta
Bob Marley … Detective Greenly
Brian Mahoney … Detective Duffy
David Ferry … Detective Dolly