Movie Round-Up: Trainspotting 2, CHiPs, Belko Experiment, Wilson

By | September 1, 2017

If you had told me I would enjoy the critically-reviled “CHiPs” remake more than the long-anticipated “Trainspotting” sequel, I might’ve punched you in the face. But that’s exactly what happened…

Trainspotting 2…Even the movie’s clumsy official title “T2” feels derivative, and although you can’t blame Danny Boyle for wanting some of that Linklater-“Before Sunset/Midnight” indie-sequel magic, this film proves that more indie classics would be hurt by sequels than helped by it. It’s not just that this film is absurdly far-fetched—is it truly believable that four heroin addicts would survive to reach their late-40’s? Or that a violent felon could escape from prison without his family’s house being surveilled?—but much of it is unintentionally depressing. Whereas the first film wanted to honestly portray drug addiction, this one has its characters mostly running in place without the shackles of drug addiction. [Seriously, almost everyone ends this movie in exactly the same place they started.] Ewan McGregor’s Renton shows up 20 years after fucking over his friends, earns their forgiveness only to…quickly want to fuck them over again? Huh? Maybe Robert Carlyle’s cartoonishly villainous, vulgar Begbie isn’t entirely wrong for wanting to kill him. Grade: D

The Belko Experiment…An American team of office drones working in Colombia are locked inside their towering office building, and told that if they don’t start killing each other, they’re all going to die. This “The Office meets Saw” premise should’ve been more fun than it is, but that would require a script that truly wants to have fun skewering a hellish version of office politics. “Belko”‘s greatest let-down is how little it wants to be an allegory for a cutthroat corporate culture, and the office deaths aren’t even particularly inspired–there’s no gruesome staple gun gougings, no paperclip necklace stranglings, nor even a decent gag about dirty employees leaving a “messy microwave” or coffee pot. What a wasted opportunity this film truly is…Grade: C

CHiPs…I want to be clear that I didn’t exactly like this movie, but sometimes a film’s horrific expectations are all you need to truly enjoy it for what it is, and director/star Dax Shepard’s “CHiPs” had such bad box office, audience scores, and critical reviews, that I would’ve been pleasantly surprised if the movie didn’t have a visible boom mic in every scene. So I was shocked that the action scenes are inspired (the goofy, electric motorcycle chases truly are better than anything in the comparatively overrated “Baby Driver”), Vincent D’nofrio’s villain is interesting, and Shepard’s motocross-star-turned-aged-rookie-cop is one of the most unlikely characters I’ve seen in a buddy-cop movie in years. His affable, offbeat cop is so addicted to opiods and psychological health that his more macho partner almost misses what an astute detective he really is. Grade: B

Wilson…Woody Harrelson makes for a lovable crank as the lonely title character just looking for a connection in our wireless world. [Many of his early scenes cracked me up.] And although critics correctly singled out his performance, many reviews missed the ace supporting cast of women surrounding him from Laura Dern’s recovering party girl to Judy Greer’s sunny dog-walker to too-brief cameos by the likes of Mary Lynn Rajskub and the always-fantastic Margo Martindale. Grade: B+

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