Movie Review: "Trainspotting 2"

By: 
John Thomas, Movie Critic
(Left to right) Ewen Bremmer, Ewan McGreggor, Johnny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle reprise their roles from the 1996 original film.
Boom! Boom! Boom! From the first image on the screen and the first sound coming from the speakers, Danny Boyle (director) grabs you by the throat and squeezes.  Sometimes he lightens his grip but most times he squeezes really hard; throughout the film’s one hour 57 minute running time Danny never lets go. It might be a help to have seen the first Trainspotting film released some 20 years ago, but the frenetic pace of this version keeps viewers engaged in the now - never a moment to think of anything else. 
 
Four old hooligans reunite after a 20-year absence at the Port Sunshine Pub in Edinburgh, Scotland.
 
Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) has inherited the pub, along with a few ancient customers, from an aunt. Renton (Ewan McGregor), after a 20-year absence, saunters in one day and the two begin to rekindle their old relationship. Soon to appear are the other two misfits, Spud (Ewen Bremner) now a heroin addict and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) who has just escaped from prison. Talk about a dysfunctional foursome!
 
Twenty years later, the four are still cheats, liars, crooks, schemers, criminals and out to get money by whatever means possible.  The story ricochets from scene to scene, past to present, vignette to vignette like a fly trapped in a car bouncing off windows to get out.  Simon and his girlfriend Veronica, from Bulgaria, have a lucrative business going for themselves - blackmail. They soon come up with a new idea for more criminal activity - turning the pub into a brothel. Her career as a blackmailer leaves her with poor self-esteem. She hopes that by becoming Madame of the place her feelings towards herself might improve. 
 
Their next step is to seek a bank loan of £100,000 for their “urban improvement” idea. They pledge that their new “B&B” will generate jobs, bring more people to the neighborhood and they promise to serve organically grown and environmentally responsible products. Members of the bank listen to their request and promise to respond within a few days’ time. As this plot unfolds, the other crooks are getting high, into trouble, fights and shootings with a bit of soul searching thrown into the mix.
 
This could have been a rather boring coming of (middle) age film were not for its creative presentation. Dialogue is often spoken with such a heavy dialect that it is unintelligible. Hence,  subtitles. Not subtitles at the bottom of the screen but scattered all over the screen.  When two actors are speaking, the translations are shown nearest them, in different sizes, angles - even over the actors. Colors flash, the set is upside down, black and white, twenty years ago then now, caring and cruel, nasty and nurturing, anything and everything goes in this madcap adventure.
 
After almost two hours of neck squeezing, Danny’s hand is probably getting tired so he moves towards a conclusion. One question remains however. Does anyone of the five main characters walk away happy, fulfilled, and rewarded, with a sense of accomplishment and achievement? Oh yes indeed, one of the foolish-five does, not only with huge financial rewards but also well out of the reach of the law.
 

 

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