Boyle's breakthrough film is pretty crude and edgy, but it's also a cinematic wonderland about a bunch of drug-craving friends, drenched in thick accents.
Slumdog Millionaire works on all levels. While it starts off as a light drama it ends as a pure feel-good film and has no trouble making it work.
The good stuff
Sunshine is a superb example of how genre cinema can be elevated when the hand of an author is added to the mix, though ever so slightly.
Danny Boyle's early 00 horror film that helped to breathe new life into the zombie genre. The crappy DV quality of the film is inescapable, but within those confines Boyle created a tense, sharp and engaging little horror film that still stands proud.
T2 Trainspotting is a damn good companion piece to the first film.
What does a famed director do when he's asked to direct the opening ceremony of the Olympics, but feels a little bored in between? Why he just shoots another film of course, and that's exactly what Danny Boyle set out to do. The result? Trance. A modern, slick and fast-paced mind bender sprinkled with a moderate but pleasing touch of Boyle's magic.
Even though at its core Trance is a very British film, Boyle assembled quite an international cast. James McAvoy takes up the lead role (and seems to act as a direct replacement for Ewan McGregor), Vincent Cassel shines as one of the main bad guys and Rosario Dawson flutters in between these two without a clear sense of moral. They form a strong trio, giving a little extra shine to a rather tepid and tested background story. Boyle's Trance misses the urgency, tension and mystery of a truly engaging mind/clusterfuck, but makes up for that in other departments.
Visually there's a lot to enjoy here. The ultramodern setting is captured beautifully, with lots of attention to color, lighting and reflections. The soundtrack is pretty interesting too, typical Boyle material blending rock and dance music, timed to perfection. Add some unexpected gory bits and a lack of general prudeness and you have a pretty slick thriller that waltzes through its 90 minutes.
It's a shame Boyle loses it a little in between the highlights, as he never truly succeeds in gelling everything together. The climax too is a little underwhelming, but the actual ending is strong and there are more than enough memorable scenes to make this worth your time. It's not Boyle at his best, but for a film that was conceived as filler it's a lot better than I expected it to be.
Fine but safe romantic fantasy that has an interesting premise, but doesn't do a whole lot with it. People hoping to see some of the old Boyle magic will be slightly disappointed, apart from Patel the casting is a little weak and the film has trouble making the premise 100% convincing. It's not a bad film, but with the material at hand it could and should have been better.