ReelBob: ‘T2 Trainspotting’
By Bob Bloom
“T2 Trainspotting” is a movie reeking of desperation, made by a director going through a malaise, looking for a spark to reignite his creative juices.
That the director is Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle should not concern anyone about a decline in talent.
Every major director from D.W. Griffith to John Ford to Alfred Hitchcock to Steve Spielberg have gone through such periods. Each of these directors has made movies he would prefer to erase from his resume.
To dislodge the cobwebs, Doyle returns to the city and characters that added him to the cinematic landscape: Edinburgh and Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremmer) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).
The story picks up 20 years after the events in “Trainspotting,” in which Renton ran off with money he stole from his mates after a drug-money heist.
Renton returns from Amsterdam, where he has lived for the past two decades, and begins looking up his old friends. Not much has changed for them: Sick Boy, now going by Simon, runs a blackmailing scam with his partner-girlfriend, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova); Spud is in a rehab program continuing to battle heroin addiction; and Begbie is in prison, still obsessed with killing Renton in revenge for the double cross.
Renton’s homecoming initiates a chain of events that follows the movie’s ongoing mantra: “First there was an opportunity … then, there was a betrayal.”
Renton returns because his life is falling apart: His Dutch wife is divorcing him, and he is certain he will lose his job once the company where he works completes a merger.
Feeling guilty, he brings gifts — the money he stole from Simon and Spud.
The ever-shaky and frightened Spud is grateful for the cash, which he eventually uses for more heroin. Simon, after initially beating Renton, also is grateful — though he uses the money to subsidize his cocaine addiction.
But Simon wants more. He wants to get even with Renton, by involving him in a moneymaking scheme, then leaving him high and dry as Renton had done to him.
Adding to all this is Begbie’s escape from prison.
Of course, every plan or countermove goes awry.
But, that is not the point of “T2.” Unfortunately, a cloudy swirl of nostalgia and referential sequences from the original partially obscure what Doyle is trying to say.
Basically, it’s the saw that you can’t go home again.
“T2 Trainspotting” is very uneven and disjointed. Doyle uses various camera tricks as a ploy to make you think the movie has pace.
Instead, “T2” is dull and uninvolving.
McGregor, Miller and Carlyle seem to be phoning in their performances, using poses and attitude to compensate for not being able to add new dimensions to their characters.
Only Bremmer displays growth and complexity, as Spud fights his demons, unleashing hidden talents even he did not know he possessed.
Overall, “T2 Trainspotting” is a misfire, a movie that Doyle perhaps needed to recharge his batteries. Now that he has gotten this out of his system, I believe he will go on to bigger and better features — and he can bury his past — permanently.
Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
1½ stars out of 4
(R), language, sexual content, nudity, violence