Ten years ago, The Boondock Saints looked like yet another pompous action fantasy from a would-be Tarantino. But, as revealed by the fascinating documentary Overnight, director Troy Duffy wasn't aiming for the lowest common denominator with his tale of mob-massacring Irish Catholic vigilantes, but trying to escape from it. And it turned out Duffy wasn't the only bro who wished the Brothers McMullen had a gun in each hand; his film proved a surprise DVD hit, despite making only $30,000 in the theaters. Though his subsequent scripts have failed to make it past development, Duffy has belatedly squeezed off a sequel that recalls both The Godfather Part II and a 10th-year fraternity reunion.
Since dispatching a mob boss in the middle of a Boston courtroom, homicidal twins Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) McManus have grown beards and begun raising sheep in Ireland with their hitman father (Billy Connolly). But the tranquility ends when the boys return home to solve a priest's murder that bears their trademark. Teaming with Romeo, a roid-raging chihuahua of a thug played by Clifton Collins Jr., the pair blast their way through the criminal underworld. Meanwhile, sweater-clad Dad recalls the origin of his family's bloodlust in a series of flashbacks that connect to the ensuing chaos.
Aside from Willem Dafoe's mincingly worshipful FBI agent - replaced by Dexter's Julie Benz, imitating Nicole Kidman imitating Renee Zellweger - the original gang's all here. (SPOILER! Even Dafoe eventually pops up.) Their enthusiastic mugging adds to a tone that's far gigglier than the original, despite the earnest backstory. The humor comes almost entirely from gay-baiting banter and mafia/cop buffoonery, but Duffy shows a surprising self-awareness about the ridiculousness of it all... at least until Peter Fonda starts speechifying in an Italian accent.
Duffy's amateur enthusiasm makes it hard to complain about his material's obvious toxicity: How can you decry his worldview when his films aren't really set on Earth? Given too much respect, he could become a Tyler Perry for the Fight Club set. But if he accepts his trash status, as Boondock Saints II suggests he might, Duffy could wind up their Russ Meyer.