IN a film of blood-splattering hockey brawls and uncouth locker rooms jokes, it is hard not to raise an eyebrow at the multiple references made to 19th century biologist Charles Darwin. Fortunately, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, like its predecessor, produces both laughs and warmth out of the indelible stamps of man’s lowly origin.
Six years after he first spilt blood on the ice, Doug ‘The Thug’ Glaat (Seann William Scott) is back and ready to do the dirty work. But, as the title suggests, this all changes when rival enforcer Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) brutally takes him out of action.
Glaat is forced to step away from cheering crowds and into the mundanity of an office job. Eva (Alison Pill), now expecting a baby goon, is at home for support, although she worries it might not be reciprocated. They both risk losing their spark.
As Cain, now playing for Glaat’s beloved Highlanders, threatens to tear the team apart from the inside, ‘The Thug’ plots an unlikely comeback to rescue his old teammates – and friends – from a disastrous end to the season.
This comeback story doubles down on the dense Glaat speeches and bloody fights that made for authentic fun in the original Goon. As is often the case, these elements lose some of their initial good-will the second time around.
Nevertheless, baddie father-son combo, Anders and Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) are effective additions. Less so TJ Miller, who delivers bizarre quips as a sports desk announcer – perhaps they land better with American audiences.
Liev Schreiber is the star player with his returning portrayal of beaten-down, smart-talking schmuck Ross Rhea. The type of character he also proved proficient at playing in recent boxing film The Bleeder.
Rhea throws up the most entertaining addition to the story as he competes in the ‘Bruised and Battered’ competition – basically ice hockey fights without the hockey. He then lends help to an old nemesis, Glaat, for a series of Rocky-Creed montages (Rocky III), only trading sand for ice.
Not forgetting Darwin, this sequel feels like a relatively safe and familiar sideways step – hardly evolution. Those who enjoyed the first outing will feel comforted – certainly not disappointed or blown away – by this follow up.
But if the Goon came back for a third round, he might be skating on dangerously thin ice.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers is available on DVD, Blu-ray and download from 2 October.