Quentin Tarantino what have you wrought? Every now and again a movie comes around by one of Tarantino’s acolytes that tries to emulate the master, but, instead, slips into parody. “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” is such a movie. The only thing that prevents director Troy Duffy’s follow up to the original cult film from being an out-and-out send-up of Tarantino’s tough guy revenge genre pictures is the absence of Leslie Nielsen.
Ten years after the first installment the pious but deadly MacManus brothers, Connor and Murphy (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are back on American soil after a long exile in rural Ireland. They had been living a quiet life, tending sheep (I’m not kidding) and letting their hair grow to unruly lengths, but when their favorite Boston priest is killed they leave the sheep behind and return to their former lives as vigilante Mafioso killers. Joining them are new recruit Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), Southern belle and FBI special agent, Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz) and Poppa M (Billy Connolly). Bullets, bad accents and religious iconography abound as they bring their own brand of justice to the mean streets of Boston.
Duffy hasn’t made a movie since 1999 and it shows. “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” plays like a bloated 1990’s Mötley Crüe music video, complete with slow motion sequences and Julie Benz in FBI issue dominatrix heels. The only things missing are dry ice and a drum solo, and I’m pretty sure those will be in the director’s cut.
Story wise it has all the depth of a UFC match and is just about as well acted. Everyone from the above the title credits does their worst work here, and Peter Fonda actually hands in a career ending performance as The Roman, an enigmatic figure who appears at the end of the film. And when, exactly, did Billy Connolly become a Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins impersonator? Even Clifton Collins Jr, a gifted actor who shone very brightly recently in “Sunshine Cleaning” doesn’t fare very well, although, to be fair, it’s hard to shine when you have to recite lines like, “This isn’t rocket surgery, you know.” Ouch. That line would make Ed Wood Jr. proud.
Maybe I have it wrong. Maybe Duffy meant to make a tough guy parody, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels more like fourth rate Tarantino. All the trademarks are here. There’s the movie references—QT cites an exotic blend of kung fu movies, Goddard and 70s exploitation; Duffy references “Panic Room,” a middling 2002 Jody Foster thriller. Then there’s the “hip” soundtrack—Tarantino mines a deep well of soundtrack and pop music, Duffy doesn’t. It just all feels like warmed over leftovers.
In what may be the defining scene of “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” Judd Nelson, as mafia boss Concezio Yakavetta, reenacts the famous Al Capone baseball bat scene from “The Untouchables,” only this time, instead of a Louisville slugger he uses a salami to make his point. And that choice pretty much sums up the entire movie—ham-fisted and meat headed.