Expectations were high. After 10 years, the much-anticipated sequel to the cult classic Boondock Saints finally crawled out of development hell, made it to the big screen and now onto Blu-ray. The buzz around the sequel, however, seemed largely fan-generated, and hopes were high that this sequel, likely too late, would live up to the original.
Personally, I was skeptical. It's incredibly difficult to imagine a follow-up that could do the original justice, and since this movie had been in the works for so long (heck, there was some speculation that it was going to come out in 2005) that I was afraid that it would, frankly, not be very good. My hopes were sparked, however, when it was confirmed that much of the talent from the original was returning: Troy Duffy, Norman Reedus, and Sean Patrick Flanery. Perhaps some of the magic would be rekindled with all of these names back in the game.
The result was mixed. Some fans thought it was the perfect follow-up, others thought it was horrid. I admit that I fell somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed it as a decent action movie with some fun one-liners, thought it was a fairly acceptable sequel, but, deep down, I think that the franchise would have been perfectly fine without this movie.
In All Saint's Day, fraternal twins Conner (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) , known as "The Saints," are living a quiet life in Ireland with their father after leaving Boston following their stint as mobster-killing vigilantes. They soon realize that the quiet country life isn't for them and that it's time to clear their names, so they head back to Boston to continue fighting the mob. Around the time of their arrival, a priest is killed in a manner similar to that employed by The Saints (this becomes a revenge motive for the MacManus brothers). FBI Agent Eunice Bloom (Julie Benz) steps in to investigate, working with local detectives (and familiar faces) Duffy (Brian Mahoney), Dolly (David Ferry), and Greenly (Bob Marley). She quickly concludes that the crime was committed by a copycat, but as the crimes become more frequent, it becomes obvious that the real Saints are back in town.
By far, Julie Benz steals the show in every scene she appears in. Though it quickly becomes apparent that she is essentially Willem Dafoe's character Paul Smecker from the first movie, Benz plays a fun, believable character with a sweet southern accent who is "so f*ing smart" that she "makes smart people feel retarded." By the time I was halfway through the movie, I just couldn't get enough of her. The returning characters seem to easily fall back into their roles, particularly Reedus and Flanery. But sadly, it just isn't the same without Willem Dafoe, who was one of the best parts of the first movie. Even though he does make a cameo at the very end (and it implies that he will return in a supposed third movie), it just isn't the same.
The writing is as fun as I remember the first movie being, complete with one-liners and curse-laden dialog. Sadly though, the first half of the movie feels like a recycled version of the first, with a plot that I have definitely seen before and that frequently threatens to be stale and/or boring. It does pick up in the second half though, with more action, more surprises, and a somewhat unexpected ending that, while enjoyable, feels sadly disjointed from the earlier parts of the movie, almost like there was a big gap between when the first and second halves of the movie were written.
While I didn't have the opportunity to see the movie in theaters (it seemed to come and go pretty quickly), I got to enjoy it in full-blown Blu-ray glory. While the film itself feels a little low budget and old (as in, it feels a little bit like it was released in the '90s), the picture is crisp and clear. While the sound quality is top-rate (and helped add emphasis to the color strings of curses that frequently spew from the characters' mouths), particularly in the action sequences, where it feels like bullets were flying at me through the screen. The use of surround was particularly amazing during the action sequences, making it feel like I was right in the middle of the action.
The Blu-ray edition of Boondock Saints II is presented in lovely 1080p and 2.35:1 high definition with full stereo sound. The Blu-ray includes French, Portugese, and Spanish audio, as well as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
The special features are pretty generous, particularly on the Blu-ray version. They include a collection of very short deleted scenes, a 25-minute behind-the-scenes feature discussing the franchise's popularity, a funny sit down with Connelly and Duffy, and (exclusive to Blu-ray) a special behind-the-scenes and interview feature, a ten-minute piece on the weapons used in both films (ideal if you're into the guns), and a 60-minute feature on Comic-Con.
Overall, All Saints Day can be approached as a fun action flick, but may rub some hardcore fans the wrong way. While I personally feel like the movie was a bit of a disappointment, I'm glad I at least watched it.