By Dan Marrazza One of the hottest issues in hockey the past few years is how the physical elements of the game, particularly fighting, have steadily diminished. It’s in this spirit that the long-awaited sequel to the 2011 breakout hit 'Goon' has begun filming in Toronto, Barrie and Hamilton, Ont. 'Goon: Last of the Enforcers', starring Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber and Jay Baruchel, is scheduled to be released in theatres in 2016. “This is about an age that’s drawing to a close,” Baruchel said. “It’s a role, the goon, that’s going out of fashion. It was the stuff of talking heads when we made the first movie, about whether or not these guys have a place and how much of a place they should have. This is even more so now. It’s timed out perfectly to what we wanted to say about Doug’s (Seann William Scott) career. If we do our jobs telling the story right, then Doug is the prototype and represents a bygone era. He’s the last cowboy during The Depression, sort of thing. That’s the goal of the story we’re trying to tell.”
Baruchel, who will appear on-screen again as Pat, is directing his first feature film. He grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan, worshipping enforcers Chris Nilan and John Kordic, and will use his insights as a hockey fanatic to provide intelligent commentary on how the goon’s role has diminished in the modern game. But Goon 2 still promises more than its share of rough play. “We go pretty f---ing hard in this one,” Baruchel said. “We went pretty hard in the first one. But there will be nothing like this one.” The sequel reunites the fictional Halifax Highlanders, who are facing a new host of problems, both on and off the ice, as they look to return to the playoffs. Those problems are exacerbated by a pro hockey lockout that has relegated several elite players to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League. So in addition to some unforeseen challenges in their personal lives, the Highlanders are facing the stiffest level of competition in their careers. To boot, the team’s two leaders, Glatt (Scott) and Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), are no longer in the prime of their careers and have to fight tooth, nail – and maybe another tooth here and there – just to maintain their status as pro players. “In between the first and the second movie, we really see the evolution of a hockey player’s life…the pressures of hope, money and everything.” Grondin said. “Then it’s getting older in the league and realizing you aren’t the young, hot player anymore, and they aren’t the strongest and the fastest. It’s really intelligent. It’s a beautiful script. I think the second one is stronger and is going to resonate a lot with the players and fans.”
If there’s any one major difference you can expect to see in the sequel, it’s the way the film will make its fights look. “The choreography in this film is quite a bit different than the first film,” said George Tchortov, who returns in his role as Evgeni, one of the Highlanders’ two Russian players. “In the first film, it was really back and forth, guys just unloading on each other with a lot of testosterone. In this one, the fights are a bit more dynamic and cinematic. The first film was very true to a hockey fight. This one is a little more stylized. It highlights and accents that extra little bit that maybe wasn’t in the first one. The fights are really stylized, and they look really sharp.” Adding to the sharpness of how Goon 2 will look is the extra efforts the film is making to utilize as many genuine hockey minds as possible. In addition to importing hockey trainers to help script the on-ice scenes, the film will also have a pair of notable cameos from Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars and Michael Del Zotto of the Philadelphia Flyers as members of the St. John’s Shamrocks. It will also feature several current and former major junior players skating as extras and stunt doubles, including the son of Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour. “I think the hockey action looks even better than the first (movie),” said Jake Gilmour, a left winger with the Kingston Frontenacs. “Knowing the movie well made me more excited for this experience. Goon is a cult classic. Our generation’s Slap Shot.” For his part, Baruchel isn’t playing down the hype for the sequel. “Goon was the best hockey that’s ever been photographed in a movie, in my opinion,” he said. “This new movie will shred it and everything else.”
This is an edited version of a feature that appeared in the Season preview edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.