The first Boondock Saints movie (The Boondock Saints) was made in 1999 and is a cult movie classic.
For over 10 years, people have been telling me, “You GOT to see this movie!!”
Well, this year… I finally did. I loved it! I thought it was totally amazing.
The second Boondock Saints movie (The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day) was made ten years later, in 2009.
Until I went looking for the DVD of the original movie, I didn’t even know there was a sequel.
I watched it a few weeks after I saw the original. It was fun, action-packed and full of laughs. And I think that was its problem.
Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?
The Boondock Saints
Now, you don’t have to have grown up Irish or Roman Catholic to love this movie… but it doesn’t hurt.
OK, here’s the deal (links and all, as per the Gospel According to Wikipedia)…
The Boondock Saints is a 1999 action film written and directed by Troy Duffy. The film stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as Irish fraternal twins, Connor and Murphy MacManus, who become vigilantes after killing two members of the Russian Mafia in self-defense. After both experience an epiphany, the brothers, together with their friend (David Della Rocco), set out to rid their home city of Boston, Massachusetts of crime and evil; all the while being pursued by FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe).
I prefer the summary by Jonathan Crow at Rovi…
Feeling that they are doing God’s will, two Catholic men from Boston set out to kill everyone in this Reservoir Dogs-style vigilante thriller. Brothers Conner and Murphy MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) take to performing their divine duty against the Russian mob. They massacre a bunch of unsuspecting Mafioso in a scene of absurd violence, then they let more blood in a mass killing of porn-shop customers. Instead of getting thrown in jail, they are dubbed “saints” by the Boston Herald, and they are praised by brilliant, tortured, and gay FBI agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe).
The movie was initially met with poor critical reviews but the film has grossed about $50 million in domestic video sales and ultimately developed a large cult following.
When I watched it, it immediately became one of my favourite movies.
Now, to be fair… there are others who disagree with me. Critics have called it a ‘train wreck’… ‘an embarrassing waste of time’… ‘dim-witted’… ‘aesthetically clunky Tarantino clone’… and ‘one of the most overrated films of all time,’ among other things.
Our pals over at RottenTomatoes.com have another opinion of this movie, to wit: “A juvenile, ugly movie that represents the worst tendencies of directors channeling Tarantino.” They give it a 17% freshness level on their Tomatometer. Interestingly enough, the site also indicates that 93% of their readership liked the movie, rating it 4.2 out of 5 stars.
My two cents… I would have to say that this is a situation where the voice of the people have drowned out the sound of the crickets. Er… critics. Why? Because The Boondock Saints is effen awesome, that’s why!
Bottom line… As Joseph Zingale of Bullz-eye.com said in his review, “If you can’t sit back and enjoy an entertaining popcorn flick like The Boondock Saints, then you’ll probably never understand the difference between the movies and real life.”
And now for the sequel…
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
The Boondock Saints (aka The Saints, aka The Boys) are back!
This movie brings back all of the original cast, except that the Willem Dafoe* FBI special agent character is replaced by the delicious Julie Benz. Even David Della Rocco (aka The Funny Man) puts in an appearance, this time in dream/vision sequences.
OK, here’s the deal (as per Jeremy Wheeler, of Rovi)…
Boondock Saints, the 2000 crime picture renowned for the unique story of the fast rise and fall of its egomaniacal filmmaker, Troy Duffy, as well as the cult following that appeared later on home release, gets the sequel treatment with this follow-up. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus reunite as the vigilante MacManus brothers, with Billy Connolly returning as Il Duce. Duffy once again directs from his own script, with Clifton Collins Jr., Julie Benz, and David Della Rocco filling out the rest of the cast.
Critics panned this movie, too. ‘Idiotic style over some sorely needed substance’… ‘Trash–grubby and nonsensical, with lame dialogue, wretched overacting and clumsily staged action sequences’… and ‘Imagine Quentin Tarantino if he got his brow lowered.’
RottenTomatoes.com says, “This sequel to the cult favorite The Boondock Saints is more of the same — unoriginal, absurd, violent, over-the-top, and occasionally mean-spirited” and gives it a 23% freshness level. Popular support on its site is lower than the original… 63% (3.5 out of 5).
My two cents… The movie (filmed in Toronto) is a riot. Tons of funny bits, tons of violent shoot-em-ups, tons of references to gags and bits in the first movie. It is a lot of laughs. And, as I mentioned above, I think this is the problem.
In its attempt to be ‘more’… it ends up being less. I laughed more at the sequel and enjoyed the gratuitous violence more but afterwards, when I thought about it a bit… I wished it there was less ‘more’ and more ‘less’, like the original.
There were some genuinely funny bits in The Boondock Saints. I howled laughing for almost a full minute when David Della Rocco accidentally shot his girlfriend’s cat. But while the original made me laugh, it wasn’t a comedy. All Saints Day inches towards that genre a bit too much, I think. Same with the violence. While the original certainly used violence, it wasn’t about violence. It was about vengeance. Vigilantism as Justice. All Saints Day is about making a successful sequel.
Bottom line: The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day got a rise out of me, for sure. I enjoyed it. I had a good time. But in the end, it left me dissatisfied.
I was hoping for Eggs Benedict and I got an Egg McMuffin. And even though I love Egg McMuffins … I honestly do… they’re not Eggs Benedict.
I wanted Eggs Benedict.
* Dafoe does appear as Smecker but in a cameo role.
 Yeah, I know. Neither Eggs Benedict nor an Egg McMuffin is kosher. I got a way around that, though. Kosher Egg McMuffin: made with poached egg, sliced toasted english muffin, kosher cheese slice and non-meat bacon slice. Voilà!