"Shallow Grave" was a hit; "Trainspotting" a phenomenon. No wonder expectations ran high for the third collaboration between director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, writer John Hodge, and actor Ewan McGregor.
To call "A Life Less Ordinary" a disappointment is putting it mildly. For while the low budgets of their first two movies gave the team the freedom to take risks and push back boundaries, the injection of Hollywood capital resulted in a curbing of the edginess that had made those films so invigorating.
McGregor - whose performance in "Trainspotting" as shaven-headed dope fiend Renton turned him into a 90s icon - is miscast as a lowly office cleaner who responds to being replaced by a robot by abducting the boss's daughter (Cameron Diaz).
Diaz, however, is no damsel in distress, but a bored heiress with a love of guns and a taste for danger. Dismayed by her kidnapper's cluelessness, she takes control of the operation in order to get her own back on her uncaring dad (Ian Holm).
To make matters more complicated, Hodge introduces a couple of bickering angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) who have been ordered by Gabriel (Dan Hedaya) to make McGregor and Diaz fall in love. This element of Capra-esque whimsy sits uneasily beside the Tarantino-style mayhem, and not even the gorgeous Diaz can redeem the shambolic result.
There are compensations - a fantasy dance sequence and a slick animated coda - but these are scant rewards from a project that promises so much yet delivers so little.