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Trainspotting 2

by on June 25, 2017
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It’s funny how the long-term cultural relevance of a film has such low correlation with its box office tally. “Trainspotting” earned only $16 million in 1996, but is arguably one of the most influential movies of the past quarter-century. Certainly, director Danny Boyle and star Ewan McGregor have become important figures.

Its sequel, “Trainspotting 2,” made more than double that — but, I think, is destined to be largely forgotten in popular culture, in much the same way the “Wizard of Oz” sequel was.

(See? Bet you didn’t even know there was one.)

It’s a well-made film: entertaining, smart, sharp performances and plenty of nifty items out of Boyle’s bag of filmmaking tricks. In the end, though, we’re left wondering why this endeavor needed to happen.

We revisit the old gang of addicts / criminals 20 years later, now middle-aged guys in various states of evolution, or not. Renton (McGregor), who ripped off his pals after a big drug score, turned to straight work in Amsterdam. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has been serving hard time in prison ever since, dreaming of getting his hands around Renton’s throat.

Simon “Sick Boy” (Jonny Lee Miller) has taken over his family’s crumbling bar, and runs a little extortion racket on the side. Spud (Ewen Bremner), the gentle, somewhat dimwitted soul of the bunch, is very much the same — working itinerantly in between getting high and visiting his wife and son.

After a health scare, Renton returns to look up his old friends — well, not Begbie — to see if there’s any way he can make amends. Spud is receptive, Sick Boy less so. But they’re eventually back to their old ways, doing drugs and dreaming up cons to run. Begbie soon escapes from prison and comes seeking his own sort of reconciliation.

Renton’s old screeds about commercialism overtaking middle-class values are nicely updated for these streaming-and-Tweeting times. Maybe the real lesson of “T2” is the old saw about things staying the same the more they change.

Bonus features form a short list, but it’s pretty meaty stuff. Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge team up for a feature-length commentary track, and there’s a making-of featurette with Boyle and his cast plus deleted scenes.

Film: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps

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