While many will remember Seann William-Scott in his iconic role as Stiffler from the American Pie franchise, for me his greatest legacy will always be as Doug "The Thug" Glatt in 2012's Goon, the unlikely hero enforcer of a Canadian minor league hockey team, who is great with his fists but has a heart of gold. Goon is a surprisingly heart-warming movie, mostly because of William-Scott's performance as the moral centre of the film, but the supporting turns of Alison Pill, Jay Baruchel, and Liev Schreiber plus a really underrated script made for something a bit special that perhaps went under the radar. Goon didn’t feel like a film that needed a sequel necessarily, but it was obviously a passion project for William-Scott and Baruchel, and as such some five years later Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers became a reality, and unfortunately, like most sequels it brings mixed results.
Goon 2 picks up a few years after the conclusion of the original film with Doug Glatt becoming captain while the Halifax Highlanders are receiving a boost in terms of media attention due to an NHL lockout. However, Doug is soon forced into retirement after a vicious confrontation with Anders Cain, who despite playing for the Highlanders opponents is also the son of the owner of the Halifax team. Doug's punching arm is damaged in the fight and he takes a job in insurance to support his pregnant wife. However, the lure of hockey is too much for Doug, and despite promising to stay retired, he secretly begins training with old nemesis Ross "The Boss" Rhea to try and make a comeback, although Rhea has his own health issues to deal with. All the while Anders Cain has been transferred to the Halifax Highlanders and is having a tough time adjusting to his new team, until things take an even bigger turn and Doug and Anders end up on opposite sides once again.
If that all sounds a little convoluted, it's because the plot of Goon 2 is convoluted. There's too many things going on, and far too many attempts to add twists and turns to the story, robbing the film of the simple, relatable transferable nature of the story in the first film. There's a certain authenticity to things here, and while of course it's a brave choice to try and make the sequel something different from the original, it may not have been the wisest choice in this instance. The NHL lockout is a nice plot device, but it's perhaps a slight bit too convenient, while having Doug retire, and having players move clubs multiple times, and the sub plot with Rhea, it all feels like a film trying to do a bit too much and as a result nothing feels like it has time to make impact and really sink in.
That said, I do feel like there are some fun performances here. Seann William-Scott is once again excellent as Glatt, managing to play the loveable but slightly dim hero, who just wants to protect his teammates and his new family. Alison Pill puts in a good performance as Eva, although she feels a bit more marginalised and one-dimensional in this film than in the original. Liev Schreiber was excellent again as the mulleted Rhea, although I'm not sure if the development of his character perhaps removes some of the mystique he had previously, but that is more down to the writing than the performance. Jay Baruchel does a fine job directing (and has a very fun cameo in the film himself). The best turn for me, however, comes from Wyatt Russell as Anders Cain who is instantly believable as the arrogant hockey player, thrust into the situation by his overbearing father, but who is supremely confident and massively unlikeable. Russel brings great intensity and arrogance to the role, and it feels as though he has pitched it just right.
Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers is a perfectly acceptable sports comedy, with a few funny moments, and a few heart-warming ones too. However, the standard that was set so high in the first film was always going to be difficult to match and sadly this sequel falls just short. Goon 2 is probably best saved for die-hard fans of the first film, but it will likely leave others disappointed.