Sequel doesn’t make the final cut

By David Orlikoff

In 1999, the gratuitously violent Boondock Saints opened in Germany just two years and one border shy of the 1997 Austrian film Funny Games, which derides the use of violence. Fast forward to 2008 and director Michael Haneke does a shot-for-shot U.S. remake of his original called Funny Games. And now director Troy Duffy is back with The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, which is a remake in its own right.

The screenplay for the sequel is little more than an ad-lib of the original. Two Irish brothers known as The Saints go on a vigilante crusade, sanctioned by the federal government and Catholic Church, to rid Boston of organized crime. Replace the Italian sidekick with a Mexican and Willem Dafoe with Julie Benz—the rest are just pieces of stereotypically ethnic meat to the slaughter. Both have bad editing and worse acting. We’re now two films in and it’s still impossible to tell the brothers apart.

Still, Saints II is not as good as the original. It is both better and worse.

Better because it is a clearer vision from a more experienced Duffy, and worse because it is a clearer vision from a more experienced Duffy.

It’s astonishing, and more than a little frightening, to see a film place a moral burden on the audience to commit serial homicide. Unlike the elderly couple whom I met crying, “We were misinformed!” on a Jet Boat in New Zealand, most moviegoers probably already know if Saints II is the kind of film they will like. With a limited theatrical release, albeit much better than the original—which Duffy blames on Columbine—theaters are likely to be packed with fanboys.But if a sensible individual should accidentally happen upon this film, they won’t be in much better luck than that couple in New Zealand. As the captain put it to them, “You can get off at the bank here and wait for an hour with the poisonous snakes, or you can be quiet while we race through these rapids.” At least in the original, conscientious objectors could laugh at the hilariously misguided representation of a homosexual FBI agent. With the sequel, they can only ask for their money back.

This film makes no attempt to appeal to a wider audience. It’s ethnocentric, homophobic, anti-intellectual and juvenile. In one of its worst moments, characters wonder how one man could turn out so evil without reason.

We hear their questions as voice-over while the camera zooms in on the evil man’s leg brace. The message is loud and clear: cripples are corrupt.

The violence is creatively stylized, and completely unreal. Perhaps in another 10 years we’ll have Boondock Saints III: Back in Business, but not before a third remake of Funny Games by Gus Van Sant. While respectable cinema explores new storylines and ways to tell them, and other action films make their evolving pop culture references, Funny Games and Boondock Saints are like two 3rd graders screaming back and forth at each other.

Fans of the original will find more of the same in brighter wrapping paper.  Everyone else had better steer clear.

Check out for an interview with Troy Duffy.