It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since Troy Duffy bloodied the cult cinema landscape with the hugely popular The Boondock Saints. It’s even harder to believe that said film didn’t catapult the director into the same sort of stratosphere occupied by the Tarantinos and Rodriguezes of the world, but one needn’t do much digging to discover the reasons behind that. Note to self: be humble, be kind, and never piss of a Weinstein.
So, here we find Duffy, again; ten years later, ten years older, and, hopefully, ten years wiser, getting what could arguably be called his second shot with, appropriately enough, a sequel to the film that should have made him a household name in the first place. The question is, though, after ten years gone, has Duffy still got “it”?
If The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes, as this sequel not only lived up to my expectations; it exceeded them in every conceivable way. It may have been a decade in coming, but, damnit, was it ever worth the wait.
All Saints Day opens with the brutal assassination of a Boston priest; a murder staged to look as though it were the work of the notorious “Saints” who have been hiding out in Ireland since eradicating the Boston mob a decade earlier. This, of course, lures the dutiful brothers McManus (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) back to the hub to finish what they started. En route they meet the decidedly off-kilter Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), a Mexican-American drifter-type with connections in Boston. Romeo, well aware of the Saint’s reputation, begs the brothers to let him join the crew, and the trio hit the ground running (and gunning) their way through underlings and henchmen in pursuit of the man who they believe set these events into motion; Concezio Yakavetta (a surprisingly good Judd Nelson).
Complicating matters are the arrival of the sexy FBI Agent, Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz), whose seeming dedication to bringing down the Saints has their three Boston P.D. enablers quaking in their boots, as well as a mysterious puppet master known only as The Roman, who played a large part in Poppa McManus’ formative years (Billy Connolly).
The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day is an absolute blast, and, in my opinion, the rare sequel that improves on the original in almost every way. There’s more action, more laughs, more surprises, and, while Duffy’s somewhat loose and “rock and roll” directorial style hasn’t changed, more polish and professionalism than its predecessor. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews of the film, and I can’t help but think that many of these are colored by anti-Duffy sentiment, and written by people who probably didn’t like the original movie in the first place. Bottom line, if you’re a Boondock fan, you’ll love this film. No – scratch that; you’ll cherish it. This is an unabashed love letter to the fans, and, seeing as how I’m one of them, this will be one I’ll definitely revisit again and again and again…
One of the biggest surprises are the quality of performances Duffy goads out of some of the actors I least expected to enjoy, here, especially Julie Benz who usually annoys the living fuck out of me, but, here, comes off as assuredly sexy and downright appealing. Judd Nelson channels his inner Al Pacino in a spit-flecked, over-the-top performance that reminds us why he was the coolest of the Breakfast Clubbers. There’s also a “surprise” cameo at the end featuring a somewhat legendary actor who uses his very limited screen time to deliver one of his finest, most mesmerizing performances. This is a film filled with revelations, many of which will have Boondock fans smiling from ear-to-ear. And that last scene? Oh man; I literally sat up and cheered, and I was alone in my freakin’ living room. It’s just that cool.
Sony delivers All Saints Day to DVD with a fantastic 2.35:1 transfer that looks damned impressive for standard definition fare. Granted, my Blu-ray player upscales DVD to near-HD quality, but, usually, the results are mixed at best. Here I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching a Blu-ray, so I can only imagine how good the HD transfer looks! Blacks are deep and true, detail is strong, and there’s nary a hint of digital compression or artifacting. The Dolby 5.1 audio track is equally appealing, with strong bass, a nice spatial mix, and crisp dialogue.
Extras include over four hours of content, with two FANTASTIC commentary tracks. The first track features Duffy, as well as Billy Connolly, Flanery, and Reedus, and is a fun, informative, and oftentimes hilarious conversation amongst a group of guys who sound more like bar buddies. The second commentary…well…I can’t tell you about that one. You’ll have to see for yourself. Just DON’T look at the special features list on the DVD menu before watching the film. You’ll thank me later.
Other extras include a fairly beefy making-of featurette entitled “Unprecedented Access – Behind the Scenes” which is really aimed toward Boondock fans, and shows that Duffy’s really sort of mellowed. He’s still a loudmouth, but in a good way, and he seems genuinely humbled by the support he’s received from fans over the years. Also interesting here is just how collaborative this reportedly arrogant director is with his cast and crew, including a segment in which he, Flanery, and Reedus rewrite an entire scene just hours before shooting it at Flanery’s request. Maybe it’s all a big public relations ruse, but, to me, Duffy comes off as genuinely repentant. Another great extra is a sit down with Duffy and Connolly that is gut-bustingly funny stuff. The two have a wonderful rapport, and an obvious affection for one another. Rounding out the extras are a pair of deleted scenes, and trailers for several other Sony releases.
Boondock Saints fans are a vocal bunch, and they’ve been clamoring for this film for over a decade, now. While the reception has been decidedly mixed, it’s my feeling that any true Boondock fan will welcome this film with open arms, and, by its conclusion, find themselves already psyched up for another entry in the series (something that’s set up quite nicely, here). Love him or hate him, Troy Duffy is back, and back in a big way. Here’s to hoping Troy Duffy 2.0 can live down his reputation and get back in Hollywood’s good graces, as I sure as hell don’t to wait another ten years for Boondock 3! For Boondock fans, this gets my highest possible recommendation!