The original “Boondock Saints” went virtually unseen during its mini-release in 1999 but found cult status on DVD, and this sequel is obviously aiming to bring fans of the first movie into theatres while preparing the way for a long life on store shelves and “on demand” services. As a communal experience for the already initiated “All Saints Day” may prove acceptable. But to more general audiences it will come across as nothing more than the cheesy, dumb action movie it is, and even devotees of the original may discern how hard it is to go back to the same dirty well twice and feel refreshed.
The first “Saints” dealt with the McManus brothers, Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) deciding to play vigilante and wipe out the bad guys of Boston. Their shtick was to pray over their quarries before shooting them simultaneously in the back of the head. In the course of their pursuit of the evildoers they were reunited with their father (Billy Connolly), a hitman called Il Duce who was hired to kill them. They then formed a trio, which succeeded in offing the mob boss and escaping with the connivance of a gay FBI agent (Willem Dafoe) and three stooge-like local cops.
In “All Saints Day,” the brothers go back to Boston from their hideaway in Ireland in response to the murder of a priest that’s made to appear to be their handiwork. It turns out they’re being lured back by the new boss (Judd Nelson), son of their late victim. But it also transpires that the scheme is being masterminded by an elderly don (Peter Fonda) whose target is actually their father.
The plot, of course, is nothing but an excuse for the same mixture of crass humor and dumb violence that marked the first movie. Much of the original cast is back, including some whose characters were supposedly dead but were too popular with the fan base to do without. But in addition to Nelson, there’s a major addition in Julie Benz as FBI Agent Eunice Bloom, the replacement for Dafoe’s deceased detective. And as the boys’ new aide-de-camp, we have Clifton Collins, Jr., as Romeo—whose Mexican background opens the door to much crude ethnic humor.
“All Saints Day” is trash—grubby and nonsensical, with lame dialogue, wretched overacting and clumsily staged action sequences, and the use of Catholic elements as cheap plot devices is particularly tasteless. But that’s true of its predecessor, too, and it won a fervent following. One imagines they’ll come out for this installment, which offers another helping of exactly the same.
That’s not saying much. But it will probably be enough.