Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Movie – The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

I was originally going to review a different movie for Judd Nelson, but after watching The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day as part of prepping for my just-posted review of the first film, I saw that Nelson had a role in the sequel and it seemed fitting to review the two films back to back; the first for Mainer Bob Marley and the second for Mainer Judd Nelson.  Marley fans, don’t fear; he is also back for the sequel.  In fact, most everybody from the first film reprises their roles in the second, even though it took ten years for it to finally make it to the big screen.  The result is a lot of fun for fans of the first movie.

Note: this review contains spoilers for the first film.  If you have not seen it, you may not want to read any further.

In the world of the films several years have passed.  That’s smart because both actors are showing their ages in this sequel and there is no way it would have been believable if writer/director Troy Duffy had tried to pick things up where the first film left off.  In fact, the two brothers and their father are living a quiet life in a remote cottage in Ireland, tending sheep, and basically not concerned with the outside world.  This doesn’t mean they are cut off, though.  A local priest shows up with bad news: a popular Boston priest has been killed, in his church, in a way that makes it look like the work of the brothers.  They know it was done to call them out, but they can’t let something like that go unpunished.

While their father (Billy Connolly) stays home, Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) get jobs on a freighter bound for Boston.  While on the ship they become friends with a tough little guy named Romeo (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and he figures out who they are.  He becomes a sort-of third Saint, like their friend Rocco was in the first film.

The man who ordered the killing is Concezio Yakavetta (Judd Nelson), the son of the man the brothers executed at the end of the first film.  His lieutenants aren’t happy with him pulling this stunt, some because it involved killing a priest, and all because they know that it will bring the wrath of the Saints back down on the bad guys in Boston.  Yakavetta doesn’t care.  He’s not careless, though.  In fact, he’s built himself a panic room in his headquarters that he spends a lot of time in, just in case. 

Judd Nelson had gotten into acting after graduating from college.  He soon landed film roles and had a fast rise in popularity in the 1980s.  He has worked continuously since then, but his star diminished after a while and you never know what movie he might pop up in now.  It’s funny that he often is cast to play the tough, low class guy because both of his parents were attorneys here in Maine, and his mother was also in the legislature.  Nelson attended both prep school and a private college.  He was pretty much the opposite of his most famous character of Bender in The Breakfast Club.  His casting in the Boondock Saints sequel is another tough guy role, but I do have to say that it is fitting because he bears a resemblance to the actor who played his father in the first film.

The same three local detectives from the first film, Greenly (Bob Marley), Duffy (Brian Mahoney), and Dolly (David Ferry) investigate the killing of the priest.  (As a reward for the actors and the fans of the first film, Troy Duffy expanded their roles in this sequel.)  They know it can’t be the brothers because they only killed bad men, but they are worried that this investigation will get uncomfortably close to the fact that all three, along with FBI agent Paul Smecker, helped the brothers carry out their assassination of the elder Yakavetta in the first film.  Smecker is now dead, the FBI is sending a new agent in, and they don’t know what’s going to happen.  As it turns out, the agent is a woman named Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz) and she’s got more going on than at first appears on the surface.  She knew Smecker, which unnerves the detectives even more.  Did Smecker tell her about his and their part in helping the brothers, or did he take that to his grave?

As the brothers and Romeo start to wreak havoc in Boston, they really want to find the actual killer of the priest.  In return, we come to realize that this man doesn’t want the brothers; he wants their father, who was a legendary assassin.  If he can take out the father, he will become a legend in his own right.  We also find that there is someone known only as “the old man” who is guiding both this killer and Yakavetta, and that he has some kind of history with the father.  We then see both the father and this man as teenagers and we get the backstory on how the father became a killer.  I won’t reveal who plays the old man role since it is a nice surprise when we finally see the actor.  There is also a nice scene that returns Rocco (David Della Rocco) in a dream sequence.  (The cat that had the untimely demise in the first film returns in this scene, too.)

Troy Duffy had a challenge making this film.  Even though his budget was two million dollars higher than for the first movie, inflation and the falling dollar conversion between the U.S. and Canada where the films were shot had worked to actually mean he had a smaller budget to work with and a bigger film to make.  On the DVD he talks about the insane number of setups and shots they would do in single days, but that that urgency actually helped in some scenes because it translated into urgency and desperation with some of the characters.

He also talks a lot about the fans.  He thanks them several times on the DVD and says that this second film wouldn’t exist without their unwavering support.  He also talks about something that shows how great the fans are.  They were going to shoot a scene in a couple days and needed a few hundred extras.  Their budget being constrained like it was, they put the word out that any fans that wanted to show up and be in the movie as an unpaid extra would be welcome.  He was blown away not only by the number of people that showed up on short notice, but that some of them had come ridiculous distances just to be a part of the movie franchise they loved.  In return, he made sure these volunteers were placed in the front of all the crowd shots so their faces could be seen, and that the paid extras were placed at the back.

Finally, he also talks about the challenges of making a sequel and how they are often a disappointment.  He says he took steps to try to balance off giving people the things they liked from the first one, but also throwing them some curveballs so that the sequel is not just a rehash of the first one.  I’m not sure he completely succeeded; as in most cases, his first film is the better of the two.  I still liked this one enough to recommend it, though.  If you are a fan of the first film, I definitely recommend you see this sequel.  For everyone else, if it sounds interesting, then give this film a try.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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  1. Not as awesome as the original, but still pretty fun and entertaining none the less. Good review Chip.