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MOVIE REVIEWS

'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day'; 'The Fall'

October 30, 2009|Robert Abele; Kevin Thomas

Troy Duffy went from a bartending screenwriter to Harvey Weinstein's golden boy in the '90s with his calling-card script "The Boondock Saints" -- a brash action comedy about twin vigilantes. His resulting bad-behavior flameout in Hollywood was humiliatingly turned into a cautionary documentary ("Overnight"). But the best revenge is a fan base. "Saints" took off on home video. Now, 10 years later, Duffy has reemerged with a sequel, "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day," reuniting Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) with their guns, bickering, vengeful streak and Boston mob dealings after an Irish sojourn with their hit man dad (the ever-shaggy Billy Connolly).

Time may have healed some of Duffy's wounds, but it hasn't made him a better Tarantino knockoff, unfortunately. He tamps down his best instincts -- occasional wry humor and the appealingly oddball supporting character (Willem Dafoe last time, a bug-eyed Clifton Collins Jr. here as the MacManus' admiring Latino cohort) -- and doubles up on his worst: homophobic gags, tedious '90s-era slo-mo shootouts and overwrought gangster tropes. Props to him for attempting a female character, but in Duffy's hands, Julie Benz's sultry, stiletto-heeled FBI investigator is mostly a garishly lit alien being hopelessly crashing the aggro-fest.

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Robert Abele --

"The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day." MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, language and some nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes. In general release.

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'The Fall' marks a glum debut

With "The Fall," writer-director John Krueger buries a promising neo-noir plot with ponderous pacing and uneven performances and dialogue. It centers on two brothers, bound by a terrible secret in their childhood, who have taken widely divergent paths. Frank (Scott Kinworthy) is a judge with a ruthless, glamorous wife (Erica Shaffer) and gubernatorial ambitions. Younger brother Tony (Benny Ciaramello) is a high school dropout and recovering drug addict who is wrongly accused of murdering a priest. Frank resigns from the bench to defend Tony but that is not enough to persuade his brother to disclose the alibi that will prove his innocence.

Ciaramello and Kinworthy generate considerable passion and intensity as Frank struggles to get Tony to speak up while Tony digs in and resists all the more. But their escalating conflict and anguish are not enough to offset the overall slackness and ineptness of the film from the first-time writer-director. To her credit, the assured and imaginative Shaffer makes her wicked wife amusing in this otherwise glum movie.

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Kevin Thomas --

"The Fall." Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes. At the Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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