If you hated the first installment of a movie, hated to the point where you would rather forget you ever saw it, can a sequel with expanded character development pull you around? Maybe a 10-year break between the original and the sequel would give some time for all involved to spruce up the material and learn from their mistakes?
Nope. Not when you are dealing with The Boondock Saints.
Boondock Saints II is an atrocious exercise in ego, banal dialogue, ridiculous action, hammy acting, and a story that manages to be both uninteresting and filled with completely unlikeable characters.
Writer/director Troy Duffy handles nearly all of this material, along with an assist from his brother Taylor on the script. The original Boondock Saints carries a cult following even though it bombed with critics. Duffy apparently wanted to appease that small loyal audience with more of the same.
That leaves critics out of that little circle, meaning this tripe does not stray far from its origins. Dialogue is mostly concerned with finding every means possible to drop f-bombs, whether or not it makes sense, fits with a character, or is even remotely appropriate. If it entered Duffy’s head, that is what ended up in the script.
Julie Benz plays Eunice, an investigator working a case that could prove the Saints are back in town. She is almost unrecognizable under the hair style and make-up. Her forced accent is grating, and the attempt to turn her into the same flamboyant character played by William DaFoe is nothing short of pathetic.
Besides the characters, with the original cast returning, nothing can salvage the screaming, pulsating ego coming from this film. This is a movie that thinks it is smart and witty, yet relies on various ball references and anal sex lingo… a lot. Immaturity turns this in a goofy live action cartoon, one for adults of course, but not one any adult is going to find funny after 10-minutes. It fails to offer a single scene worth dissecting or discussing.
Action sequences, all of them, take place almost entirely in slow motion, complete with a brainless techno beat behind them. Duffy has the Saints (Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus) sliding around, popping out of crates, and making flashy maneuvers to show off, nothing more. Unfortunately, the style is uninteresting, boring to watch, edited poorly, and is generally hard to piece together. This entire project is a misfire from the get-go.
For the first half of this sequel, you would be correct to think this was filmed digitally. Mid-range shots appear processed, scenes in low light come through murky with inconsistent blacks, and facial detail in close is minimal, not to mention failing to be fully resolved. Flesh tones are all over the place, from orange to pink, yet rarely accurate. Environments are soft and lacking detail.
Somewhere near the mid-way point, the tanning bed assault to be exact, the film grain becomes noticeable, and that texture that was completely missing starts creeping into the frame. This was shot on 35MM film, and by the end when Billy Connolly is sitting having a conversation in a greenhouse, this is reference quality. Every hair in Connolly’s beard and on his head is completely defined. Pores are clearly visible and resolved. The entire sequence, tinted a cold blue, is razor sharp.
It begs the question whether something went wrong with this AVC encode or the digital intermediate caused the obvious problems. Some intentionally tweaked scenes, including an assault inside a warehouse (with digitally added noise and created film scratches) and a bar scene (devoid of color with blown-out whites) are completely forgivable.
It is a shame too, because the early scenes in Ireland, including a wonderful pan shot of the coast, could have been prime showcase material. Instead, they appear soft and uninspired. They also lack a noticeable grain structure, or at least one that is as noticeable as what appears in the second half. This is an odd transfer, but one that is salvaged in the end.
Those expecting extensive gunfire ringing in the soundfield are going to be disappointed. The stylistic decisions here means every bullet is drowned out by an uninteresting techno beat. You will still hear guns firing in the surrounds and in the nicely split front soundstage, only with none of the force or clarity action scenes typically provide.
This is not a mistake on the part of this DTS-HD effort, just what Troy Duffy chose. Aside from the rather weak dialogue that can be difficult to hear, everything is presented cleanly. You can hear some light ambiance early during a small rainstorm, while the mixture of soundtrack and score livens up the soundfield with marginal bleed. The low end is given little to work with, so its punch is limited.
Two commentaries are included, the first sporting director Troy Duffy and his stars Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, and Billy Connolly. Duffy returns for the second to join William Dafoe.
Two deleted scenes follow, running 2:38. Unprecedented Access is the expected making-of, loaded with footage from the set between the usual round of interviews. The latter runs nearly 26-minutes. A Conversation with Billy Connolly and Troy Duffy is just that, a conversation between the two at a table.
The Cast Confesses is general praise, with a few marginally interesting stories from the set. Inside the Vault focuses on the guns used, while the longest piece (nearly an hour) follows cast and crew at Comic Con. BD-Live access is included, but provided nothing but errors when a connection was attempted.