Danny Boyle / Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle / Dramedy / 2017 / 18 / 117mins
The long awaited sequel to indie milestone Trainspotting is here. Whilst forty-something fans crave the last droplets of youthful nostalgia, it’s safe to say that Trainspotting 2 is outclassed by its 90s predecessor in almost every way. To be honest, it never really stood a chance in hell.
Edinburgh’s (not so) favourite back-alley sons are back. Renton (Ewan McGregor), the prodigal son, has returned from Amsterdam (of course) and is looking to make amends 20 years after his Trainspotting exploits. He saves Spud (Ewen Bremner) in the midst of suicide, still hooked on heroin, before stumbling into Sick Boy’s (Jonny Lee Miller) pub. Add Begbie (Robert Carlyle), fresh from escaping jail, and you’ve got a cocktail for revenge.
Trainspotting 2 isn’t the all out drug monologue you’d expect. The new drug, so to speak, is nostalgia. The gang have kids, they’re middle-aged, they’re going nowhere. To find a meaning in life – to choose life – they have to search for their new purpose. This is also the problem – a two hour visual catharsis makes amends for an interim period we have no prior knowledge of. Basically, I don’t give a shit.
Bremner is the standout as Spud: an opiate Chaucer who finds his true calling in storytelling, using his tales to benefit those around him. It’s one of the few worthwhile features of the plot and Bremner handles it well. Carlyle aside (who else could bring perennial cockshite Begbie to life), McGregor and Miller revisit their old characters with a disappointing tameness. There are too many minor niggles to weigh up (Kelly Mcdonald gets all of two minutes – why bother?) and what’s the fun in watching someone be a casual dick? Go all out – be an absolute bastard.
Don’t get me wrong, Boyle strings a dozen moments of brilliance. Sometimes they nearly justify the ticket price, but we’ve seen it all before: many of the gimmicks from Boyle’s last outing, Steve Jobs, pepper the screen.
Understandably, Boyle & co want to allude heavily to the pop virtuosity of the first film, but half the time it comes across like the film equivalent of dad-dancing. Also, why does Boyle insist on using poor quality cameras for certain scenes? One moment you’re watching a classy flick, the next you’ve descended into noughties TV hell.
Pop cornerstone it ain’t. Some may argue it’s a timely reminder that we’re all sucked into the abyss of the modern world. Fuck off – the characters choose this, and I don’t care for them. In all honesty, I felt my ticket money could have been put to better use. Choose life. Choose a cinema. Choose a film. Choose something other than this.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 3 / General Audience – 2
Trainspotting 2 is in cinemas now
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