In cinema as in life, the devotion inspired by cults can—like the Jonestown thirst for Kool-Aid—border on lunacy. Case in point: Troy Duffy’s 1999 underground hit The Boondock Saints, a junky ode to cartoon vigilante justice drenched in hollow Catholic iconography and poorly photocopied Tarantino-isms. There’s a reason Duffy hasn’t made a movie since, but somehow, the director—who famously nabbed, and then sabotaged, a sweetheart production deal with Miramax—found a way to make a sequel, this despite the fact that the intervening 10 years were not, on the basis of this follow-up, apparently spent honing his writing or directing skills. Only minutely more competent than its predecessor in terms of tone and pacing, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day locates its righteous religious avengers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) hiding out with long hair and beards as sheepherders in Ireland, a secluded life interrupted by a priest’s killing in Boston made to look like their handiwork. Lured back to New England, the two proceed to find a new comical partner in mulleted Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr.), a new federal co-conspirator in special agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz), and bountiful opportunities to complement their demeaning jokes about gays with equally crass ones about Mexicans.
The McManuses’ plot to wipe out more mobsters is basically beside the point, as this installment is mostly a chance for Duffy to pander to his base via regurgitated plot elements (ropes, prayers, gun fetishism, religious chanting and singing, conversations about execution bullet trajectories, chronological cut-and-pasting) and dully choreographed firefights that aim to exhaust the planet’s supply of slow motion. While the wild-eyed Collins Jr. and southern-drawling Benz supply some lively character to this lifeless affair, Flanery and Reedus still prove painfully featureless protagonists, with the former in particular flashing minimal expressions via a face that, over the past decade, has gone downright Mickey Rourke-puffy. Innumerable shout-outs virtually insure that the Boondock flock will welcome this return engagement, though as a lame Grindhouse-ish scratchy ’70s flashback makes plain, the true abiding love affair here remains between Duffy and QT.