Flicks don’t get any more testicular than 1999’s The Boondock Saints, a Beantown-flavored slab of Tarantino attitude that emerged as a minor cult hit. The sequel, with the marquee-hogging title of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, is basically a big middle finger extended by filmmaker Troy Duffy toward the makers of the warts-and-nothing-else documentary Overnight (2003). It’s a revenge saga to equal one of the Saints’ rampages through Boston, so let’s get into this gangsta shit.
Duffy, an L.A. bartender, went through hell to get the first one off the ground, and the friends and associates he burned through were more than happy to skewer him in the documentary. Overnight leaves him as dead as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Like The Bride, though, he’s kicked through his coffin and come back from the movie dead with a screw-you followup. To be perfectly honest, once the credits and commentary track confirmed that it was Duffy behind the camera, I could have turned the thing off. One visit with the Saints is enough for most. There is a contingent of viewers out there, mostly male I suspect, who get off on gobs of second-hand dialogue punctuated with high-decibel profanity, and poorly staged action scenes too amateur-level to count as cartoonish. To see what all the fuss was about this time I stuck it out.
The Saints, to recap, are Conner MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery) and his brother Murphy (Norman Reedus), who, in the company of their father/shaman Noah (Billy Connolly), had escaped to Ireland after capping a mob boss in court at the end of their first go-round. The murder of a Boston priest sends them back to the States for another roundelay of retribution, with a cast of would-be colorful characters including a sexy Southern belle of a special agent (Julie Benz, late of Dexter), an underground fighter from Mexico (Clifton Collins, Jr.), and the vengeful son of the dead capofamiglia. When Judd Nelson, now 50 (50!), turned up for the John Hughes tribute on Oscar night, I (and many others) wondered what he’d been up to since the Reagan era ended. And there he was, chewing, or, rather, gumming the scenery, in a poor though enthusiastic imitation of Robert DeNiro in The Untouchables.
”Poor though enthusiastic” pretty much sums up the Saints’ sorry saga to date. Collins’ off-the-wall performance, and an unbelievably bad crack at an Italian accent by Peter Fonda as a character called ”The Roman,” are among the few compensations to be enjoyed along with the relentless stereotyping (the film all but sprouts shamrocks and leprechauns when dear old Ireland is invoked), the just-for-laughs homophobia (outside of Benz and a few window-dressing tarts, the film emphasizes ripped torsos and is curiously shy of women, however), and those lame, John Woo-on-an-off-day shoot-em-ups. Actually more breeze is shot than weapons, as for most of the 117 minutes Duffy is in love with the sound of his own derivative voice, and I guess guys who aren’t familiar with the movies he’s ripping off dig it, too. That, and Duffy’s perseverance, must be at the bottom of the Saints’ attraction.
A decent 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (also on Blu-ray) is accompanied by a light-hearted Flanery and Reedus commentary track, a making-of, and deleted scenes. Duffy, Connolly, and other members of the production team chew the fat on a second track, which includes an appearance by a late-arriving Willem Dafoe, who bought it in the first film. The actor, who considers Duffy some sort of filmmaking savant, exercises considerable restraint when the writer-director says he’s never heard of Warren Oates. To which I say, buddy, bone the fuck up on your actors.
A second helping of the Christmas hit Sherlock Holmes on DVD (also on Blu-ray) confirmed it as agreeably entertaining, and its elaborate steampunk visuals and Hans Zimmer’s tasty Oscar-nominated score are up to snuff on the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen disc. Outside of Holmes’ invention of the taser and other cheerfully anachronistic bits the notoriously laddish director Guy Ritchie and producer Joel Silver kept their testosterone in check, commendably. Its $514 million worldwide success pretty much guarantees a sequel, and, given the lack of extras, a more special edition as a tie-in. While the Blu-ray is more tricked out all that’s on the DVD is a brief making-of, making it a no-shit Sherlock.