BY ANDREW MOODY
Anybody in their mid thirties to forties will remember the glory that was Danny Boyle’s extraordinary adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting. The sequel, T2, arrived twenty years later, purely as a money making operation by what’s left of Hollywood in the age of CGI McMovies. One morning on the breakfast show on Absolute Radio all the DJs sighed and said what a moving film it was, how many memories it brought back of their 90s heyday.
I was 13, and remember being mesmerised by the rebel soundtrack and hip posters featuring the cast, Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Tommy Lee Miller et al posing with buckets of water thrown over them and snarling with controlled hipster rage as New Labour dawned.
Born Slippy by Underworld was the song of Summer 1996, and Iggy Pop suddenly became famous again thanks to the stunning, exhilarating opening credits featuring Lust for Life as Renton and Spud attempt to escape the police after a run out from a bookstore.
Empire magazine, overwhelmed by the style and panache of the movie gave it five stars and said: “Come in Hollywood, your time is up!”
Cut to twenty years later and a sequel (in part based on Welsh’s novel Porno, but essentially a development of the mythology of down and outers in Edinburgh he preciously guards) has limped from average, nostalgic box office at the cinema and onto Netflix. Unlike the hyper kinetic pace of the original, rightly referred to as A Clockwork Orange for the 90s, T2 Trainspotting limps across the screen as if a bunch of good mates have banded together to make a digital home video of their glory days and failing miserably.
One of the worst things that can be said about a film is that “it looks like they had a good time making it!” and I’m sure they did. But Boyle’s previous movie before Trainspotting was the low budget horror Shallow Grave and now he’s an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire (ugh) and the famed director of the 2012 Olympics. This is in no way a dangerous film, but instead a by-the-numbers, dull thriller that sees Begbie escape from jail, Diane become a lawyer, Renton and Sick Boy join forces for a shady deal that can’t possibly work and Spud continue to battle with heroin. It’s not bad potential for a decent comic thriller, but what set the original apart was how well it captured the zeitgeist of Cool Britannia and, as stated above, paved the way for Irvine Welsh to be instructive in moving toward the ill-fated New Labour administration.
The novel – quasi inspired by Porno – is a dark and subversive tale and if they had had the guts, whilst it would have been disgusting in a John Waters on cocaine fashion, all that remains of T2 is a nostalgia trip down an iconic and far, far better movie. They even pepper the films with clips of the original, just so Danny Boyle can prove he once made a good film.
Irvine Welsh is a champagne Socialist, too bitter to realise he’s won, that he escaped the council flats in the bad part of Scotland and seems to think he is a Hollywood player of some sort. The adaptation of Filth was awful, as was Ecstasy, as is this. It is an appallingly dull film, primarily because there is a deadly vibrancy to young junkies robbing and committing crime for their fixes, but everybody now looks middle aged and tired.
Netflix is Netflix, so watch it if you like.
Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @VoguishFiction