There are a few movies that have the kind of following that does not warrant an immediate sequel, but is big enough to get one at some indeterminate point in the future. This is true for The Boondock Saints (1999). It was a film that appealed to a certain group of people, but is a fine piece in general in its own right. Even if drunken Irishmen murdering mobsters is not your thing, you have Willem Dafoe hamming it up as the flamboyantly gay Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Paul Smecker stealing the show. Typically it is box office numbers that drive whether or not they make another, and according to the International Movie Database (IMBd) the production company lost a couple million dollars. Yet it garnered enough fans in subsequent years to justify a sequel in the eyes of enough people with enough money. Thus, ten years later we get The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009).
So, what have our two main characters, Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus), in The Boondock Saints been doing since they put a dent in Boston’s organized crime? Apparently, they left Beantown behind to follow their father their Da (Billy Connolly) to Ireland to become sheep herders. Still, as the movie opens with a voice over from Da, there is something that is drawing his sons back to the United States. As we soon find out, there is a killer (Daniel DeSanto) on the loose in Boston who is copying the MacManus brothers style of dressing their victims with two coins over the eyes. They learn of this new threat when a priest comes to visit the MacManus homestead and informs them of the death of one of his brother priests at the hands of this mysterious killer. This is enough for Connor and Murphy to cut off their beards (why that is necessary, I do not know), stowaway aboard a trans-Atlantic freighter, and get back to Boston. While they are en route, the new Agent Smecker, Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz), begins investigating the death of the priest. This is much to the consternation of the Boston police detectives that helped the MacManus brothers ten years previous. They do not believe Connor and Murphy are responsible for this murder, but neither do they want some new, genius agent digging into their past. Also, we are learning a bit more about Da’s past and how he became the renowned killer that he was at one time. When the MacManus brothers finally arrive in town, they have recruited a new “saint” to help them get to uncover what is happening. This new recruit is Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), and he is eager to do his part to take bad guys out of this world. The Saints believe it is their old nemesis, the Yakavetta crime family, the head of which family they had executed, in court no less, a decade ago. Hence they set about taking down various members of that group, now headed by Concezio (Judd Nelson). There proceeds from there an all too familiar sequence of shootings and bogus investigations by Special Agent Bloom. I say “bogus” because she has been trained by Smecker, who is supposedly dead, and is in on keeping the Saints safe from indictment for doing their part in directly combatting crime. Things come to a head, though, when, after bringing down the Yakavettas again, they discover that the killer that brought them back in the first place is not connected to the Yakavetta family. Instead, he is the right hand man of somebody from Da’s past, a shadowy crime figure known as The Roman (Peter Fonda). With the truth now out there, and Special Agent Bloom no longer able to protect them, the MacManus’s, along with Romeo, journey to The Roman’s estate for a final showdown. In this shoot out, Da is mortally wounded, and the other Saints are arrested. As the film draws to a close, we see Special Agent Bloom on the run, aided by the Catholic Church it would seem. She meets a very much alive Agent Smecker, who tells her that together they can continue to use the Saints in order to fight what they see as evil in the world.
There is a somewhat clichéd, but nonetheless true, phrase at the beginning of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day that ties in with what Agent Smecker wants to accomplish at the end. There is a voice over from Connor and Murphy’s deceased friend from the first film, Rocco (David Della Rocco), the one who had originally encouraged the brothers to take on crime so violently. He divides the world into two camps: talkers and doers. Talkers are most people. The doers are the ones who change the world. In other words, by murdering every member of organized crime they can get their hands on, the Saints are making a positive impact in the world. As you might be able to guess, as a practicing Catholic I have a problem with this idea. To be clear, I appreciate the desire to do something about the bad things they see going on around them. For those of us who follow the law, many wish sometimes that there would be somebody who would take matters in their own hands. This partially explains why people find superhero movies so popular. Batman does the stuff that many among us dream we can do. The Boondock Saints gained its following because they do those superhero acts, but they are as human as the rest of us. They are, individually, a working man’s Batman. However, where it loses me somewhat is the faux Catholic theology that is layered over much of what you see in both films. No amount of praying, wearing rosaries (they are not necklaces, by the way), or saying that you are releasing them from their sins by murdering them justifies all the killing. Faith is redemptive, not punitive.
If you were a fan of The Boondock Saints, then you have likely already seen The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. I would not watch these as examples of good Catholic Faith. They are serviceable action films, so if you can ignore the way they get so much of what it means to be a Christian wrong, then they are fine films. However, the second one does drag on a bit. It clocks in at two hours, but they way it muddles along between the shoot outs makes it feel longer. It is also not terribly original, either. It is basically the same film as its predecessor, just with a few more characters. So . . . meh.