The Boondock Saints has been one of my favorite films since I was in high school, but as much as I’ve always wanted a sequel to be released, my expectations for Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day are exceedingly low.
There are various reasons for this lack of faith, perhaps the most significant of which is the permanent departure of actor Willem Dafoe (American Psycho, Spider-Man, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Antichrist) from the franchise after The Boondock Saints‘s original release in 1999. The intense success of the film among certain subsets of audiences is, without a doubt, largely dependent on Dafoe’s outstanding performance as FBI Agent Paul Smecker, a “type A” homosexual with a smart mouth and a knack for solving difficult homicides. The transformation that Dafoe’s character undergoes throughout the course of The Boondock Saints is a spectacular one, and for anyone else to attempt to surpass or even match it would be a futile experiment in failure. Hence Willem Dafoe’s departure from the franchise was hailed by many as the definitive, and preemptive, end of the series, despite director Troy Duffy’s desire to produce a sequel.
This brings me to the next major reason for my low expectations of the Boondock Saints sequel: Troy Duffy. A no-name bartender and bouncer from Hartford, CT who happened to come up with a great idea, Troy Duffy allowed his most damning faults — namely his arrogant attitude and undeserved sense of accomplishment — to alienate not only accomplished actors like Willem Dafoe, but virtually every major motion picture company and distributor in the industry as well. In fact, Duffy was lucky that The Boondock Saints was even released the first time around, and after the behind-the-scenes “making of” documentary Overnight began to circulate, it looked like the aspiring writer/director had managed not only to blow his chances of ever releasing his movie, but also irreparably damaged the possibility of success for his band, The Brood. In the original deal that Duffy made with Harvey Weinstein (of Miramax Films), The Boondock Saints was allocated a $15 million dollar budget, Duffy was paid $300,000 for the script and an additional $150,000 to direct the film. In addition, The Brood would provide the soundtrack for The Boondock Saints and as a bonus Miramax would buy and give Duffy co-ownership of J. Sloan’s, the bar where he worked.
Long story short, Hollywood execs got tired of Duffy’s ungrateful and self-righteous attitude, Duffy’s bandmates grew tired of his self-centered and greedy nature, and actors like Willem Dafoe grew tired of working with a douchebag on a daily basis. Although the film was completed and, after being shopped around at the Cannes Film Festival, received a limited release, Duffy found himself on the equivalent of the motion picture industry’s blacklist. The record deals previously offered to his band, now known as The Boondock Saints rather than The Brood, dried up and the group was forced to sign with a subsidiary of Atlantic Records in order to release their first and only CD, Release the Hounds, which sold only 700 copies before they were dropped from the label.
Perhaps it is the fact that ten years have passed since The Boondock Saints fiasco, or maybe the movie’s small but deeply devoted fan following convinced the production/distribution company Stage 6 Films (Zombie Strippers!, The Grudge 3, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days) that a sequel to the film would be profitable enough to outweigh the inherent trials and tribulations of working with Troy Duffy, but how he managed to pull off the filming — let alone the release — of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day is beyond me. Hardcore fans of the first movie like me and several of my friends (one of whom has “Aequitas” and “Veritas” tattooed on his biceps: just an indication of how much we love The Boondock Saints) have, as previously mentioned, exceedingly low expectations of a film that is attempting to one-up its predecessor. Thus far, the majority of the reviews that I’ve read or heard about All Saints Day have been extremely negative, citing the movie’s terrible and repetitive soundtrack, casting choices, and underwhelming fan response for its poor performance at the box office.
Without Agent Smecker and Rocco (David Della Rocco, whose character died in the original Boondock Saints movie), the return of the MacManus brothers is incomplete, even with Il Duce/Poppa M (Billy Connolly), Detective Greenly (Bob Marley), and Detective Duffy (Brian Mahoney). Regardless, what it really comes down to is the plain and simple fact that a Boondock Saints sequel never should’ve happened. And I have a feeling that I’ll be proven right when I go to the box office this weekend.