Sunday, February 5, 2017

T2 Trainspotting Review

'You were an addict, so be addicted. Just be addicted to something else.'

It’s hard not to compare T2 with its predecessor when it constantly flashes back to it to make up for its flagrant lack of originality. It’s also a task just identifying the main narrative thread in this messy, nostalgia-driven romp of a sequel. Is it Renton’s (Ewan McGregor) search for redemption, or the characters' constant reflections on how old they are, and their place in this new exciting world of Snapchat filters and revenge porn?

You know things are getting dire when Mark explains away the iconic ‘Choose Life’ monologue the original is so famous for. Unlike the original though, T2 takes its audience for idiots. It holds us by the hand to make sure we understand what kind of film Trainspotting was, so we know what T2 is trying so hard to recapture. Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is reduced to nothing more than a cartoon villain, and unsurprisingly provides the most excitement the film has to offer.

Much in the way it does with everything else, from the soundtrack to the poorly-written dialogue, stylistically T2 heavy-handedly tries to replicate the MTV editing that gave the original its pace and edge. It served a purpose once, aided the storytelling. But then you notice it. T2 has an excess of inexplicable freeze frames that do nothing more than demonstrate the stylistic illiteracy of this film. 

Not much can be said for the newest member of the group played by Anjela Nedyalkova, either. As if to fill the film's quota of gender diversity, Veronika exists only to look sexy and not say many words. T2 is to Trainspotting what Bridget Jones' Baby was to the Bridget Jones franchise, except the latter was funny and took itself far less seriously. Couple with this the fact that it’s more difficult to forgive a talent like Danny Boyle for this needless sacrilege. If the punk rock, anti-capitalist message the original sounded out over two decades ago seemed to promise anything, it was that this would never happen.

But just like that, a perfectly good legacy is soiled by a castrated, wishy-washy, shameless cash grab. So preoccupied is T2 by the je ne sais quoi of the original, that it ends up as a display of blatant fan service, a failed homage. Trainspotting captured a cultural zeitgeist, and will forever remain a legacy of 90s British cinema. T2, meanwhile, smacks of desperation. Choose life. Choose to rack your brains for a reason why this film ever needed to be made. Choose to give up. Choose to go home. Choose to re-watch the original. Choose to forget T2 exists.