This goon has taken far too many punches to the head and should definitely retire…

The Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)

Directed by: Jay Baruchel

Written by: Jay Baruchel and Jesse Chabot [screenplay]
Based on characters created by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg
Based on the book written by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith

Cast:
Seann William Scott [Doug Glatt]
Alison Pill [Eva]
Marc-Andre Grondin [Xavier LaFlamme]
Liev Schreiber [Ross Rhea]
Wyatt Russell [Anders Cain]
Kim Coates [Ronnie Hortense]

After taking one too many punches to the head and getting one too many injuries and now finding himself married and with a baby on the way, likable but somewhat dopey hockey enforcer Doug ‘The Thug’ Glatt quits the game to work in insurance. In the meantime, his former team the Halifax Highlanders are being torn apart by a new owner who has added his son the unstable, unlikable and violent new-enforcer on the block Anders Cain. Doug still misses the game and behind his wife, Eva’s, back returns to the team but he has to strengthen his weaker arm/fist to overcome his injuries and turns to his former nemesis Ross ‘The Boss’ Rhea to help him get back to his best and make the Highlanders to the team they used to be.

The original film ‘The Goon’ was a great sports film based around ice-hockey. It was vulgar, crass, violent but with a soft-centre. The main character Doug was apparently only good at one thing, punching people in the face and knocking them out stone-cold, he wasn’t particularly bright but was loveable and loyal. Everything that perhaps shouldn’t work but with Seann William Scott cast as Doug it was dragged over the line. Not perfect, it was no Slap Shot, but in the small pantheon of ice-hockey films, it was up there. Moderately successful it was no real surprise the Goon was going to get a sequel so here we have Goon: The Last of the Enforcers.

Personally, after the ending of the first film I could not see where the director and writer Jay Baruchel could take his cast of oddball characters to in a sequel. Baruchel cast himself as Doug’s loyal but frankly vile friend in the first film and he returns in the sequel but his hazily sketched character has gone nowhere and is just foul-mouthed and frankly unpleasant – it was bearable in the first but outlived the welcome in the second film.

Unfortunately, that is the major problem with this film, with the exception of Liev Schrieber and Alison Pill most of the characters, including Doug, haven’t gone anywhere from the first film and don’t appear to learn anything from the lessons handed to them in The Goon. Making more or less the same film as the first is not the way to go with any sequel.

The film starts on very familiar territory and is all the better for it but once the utter madman Cain is introduced (he’d be banned from every league forever) we start on a slippery slope of ever diminishing returns.

Doug gets an emotional farewell at the end of the film that seems to point to this being the end and despite Seann William Scott putting in a likeable performance again and well supported by Schrieber and Pill I do hope he hangs up his skates and calls it a day, just like every hockey player good or bad has to do eventually.

It has to be flagged that Baruchel added in the ringing, concussion-like symptoms to the fighters during the film to pay a sombre and pertinent point to the very real and very serious problem of concession injuries hockey players are getting due to being punched in the head over many seasons. It’s a contentious topic that many fans get hot-under-the-collar about with lovers of all-out-brawling seemingly hiding their heads in the sand even as the evidence mounts up around them. So Goon: The Last of Enforcers has to be applauded for taking on a contentious and hot-topic even if it was just a quick glance in its direction before returning to the vulgarities of the locker-room.

All-in-all this is a disappointment, the ice-hockey games are unrealistic and look exactly what they are, staged. It’s a great shame as much from the first story is repeated over and over again and this quickly disengaged my attention and I become bored and I’m a big fan of ice-hockey. There are laughs but too few and I was expected to laugh at one-liners and situations that I had seen previously.

A sequel to The Goon could have had something to say about the life of hockey enforcers in a funny and interesting way, it could have been controversial but sadly the makers went down the safer route of rinse and repeat. The main players keep this from being really dire but it was hard not feel disappointed and a little let down.

The Goon: The Last of the Enforcers never even made the play-offs.

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