A decade later, the cult classic The Boondock Saints finally spawns a sequel: All Saints Day. It’s a violent, profane gun battle from beginning to end, pitting the brothers McManus, Conner and Murphy (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus), against the forces of evil(er) in Boston, Massachusetts. The pair is again joined by their father, Noah (Billy Connolly), and a rough-riding gang of associates that includes Romeo (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Special Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz). What results is a bloodbath of humorous witticisms and gags, the violence balanced by the way that the actors play it straight… while playing it sideways.
After a priest is gunned down by an evil gunman who frames the brothers for the murder, the family returns from their hideout in Ireland to clear their name and rid Boston of evil. Some of the same characters return, like the trio of cops who might as well be the Three Stooges, or the various men who ran with the brothers in the original. Other pieces of the puzzle which return are the various scenario scenes: the audience is periodically presented with a hypothetical scenario where things don’t go according to plan and then in a Choose Your Own Adventure-style, they’re rebooted. The Irish music of course provides a raucous backdrop to the music-video action on the screen, and the movie often comes across (again) as choreographed, not acted.
While it’s been blasted (again) from a rating perspective, the original proved to be a big hit in some circles. It’s smart-aleck wit and pace moves through the violence, half tongue-in-cheek, and half serious, and I have a few friends who think it’s worthy of a top-five ranking. This time out, some of those attributes carry over well, even as it proves to be a more personal movie, more about revenge than about senseless shoot-outs (there are still plenty of those). Once this one got moving, I found it to actually make more sense than the first one, and its Guy Ritchie feel must make Troy Duffy proud.
I’m left scratching my head because of the huge Catholic influence on the script and the personalities of the characters. There’s the McManus family prayer:
And Shepherds we shall be
For thee, my Lord, for thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand
Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
And teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti.
The prayer is of course uttered before the execution of those who have been deemed due demise at the hands of these angels of death. It’s a different take on “shepherds” for the faith than I’ve ever heard, and it seems to me that they’re crossing over into Styx territory (the river) even while they seem to worship at the feet of an Old Testament god who is okay with murder. The god of vengeance and fire, wrath, and judgment is a pretty far stretch from the pictures of Jesus hanging on the Sunday School walls; but Duffy’s interpretation of the word of God spoken to the McManuses was a stretch in the original, so how could we expect much different?
I don’t know whether you’re a fan or a critic, but I definitely dug this one more than the first, and the many special features on the Blu-ray are sure to make my buddies happy. I think at the end of the day that you either have to allow that this is an entertaining shoot-em-up, or you’ll find yourself critically engaging the use of “faith” loosely, and see the McManuses as making a god out of their own desires. Either way, they’re vigilantes fighting evil, and in a city like Boston, will that ride ever end?