Ever since the original movie Trainspotting was released in 1996, the question has been asked: is there going to be a sequel? That question can finally now be answered, YES, and it does not disappoint! The boys from the original make their return 21 years after the release of the successful cult hit and they are just as entertaining as ever!
Loosely based on the sequel novel “Porno”, T2 sees the return of our much loved fantastic four. Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns from twenty years on the run to re-visit his long-lost friends: Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), who now runs a backstreet pub; Spud (Ewen Bremner), who has changed very little in the two decades since they last spoke; and Begbie (Robert Carlyle), who after spending some time behind bars, is as violent and menacing as ever. Whilst the trio (Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy) seem to welcome Renton back into their fold, they are not all as happy to see him as Renton would have hoped.
As a member of the so called “younger audience” of these films (Trainspotting and T2), the sequel does not, perhaps, have the same effect on myself as it would a cult follower of the original film who watched it back in ‘96 and has waited with bated breath ever since. However, despite this fact, I highly enjoyed seeing the original cast return to the big screen to bring a satisfying conclusion to the somewhat open-ended Trainspotting.
Where T2 in places lacks some of the bite and shock factor of its predecessor, it still brings enough drugs, sex and violence to imbue the same feeling of disgusted amusement that we have come to love from the original. At times, everyone in the movie theatre was cringing whilst simultaneously smirking and thinking “I know I shouldn’t laugh but…” If anything, T2 made more of an effort on the comedy front, creating a lighter tone whilst still portraying a dark undertone and a deep sense of meaning to the tale. The main characters would, in our everyday lives, be downtrodden off-cuts of society: however, the audience once again feels a warming of the heart towards the unlikely protagonists as Danny Boyle (the director) brings a modern, middle-aged twist to the characters we know and love.
I was slightly disappointed in the lack of screen time for Spud, as Ewen Bremner’s portrayal of the eccentric yet loveable character is by far the strongest of the four. There is also a fifth key character to the plot, Veronica (Anjela Nedyalkova), the love interest of the film, who is thrown in to the mix in order to keep the plot on track whilst Danny Boyle spends a little too much time following the non-essential plot lines of some of the other characters. Another point worth making is that this film is not for the faint of heart, with plenty of blood, bile and countless obscenities.
Where the first film makes a strong point that it is quite clearly set in the economically depressed era of Edinburgh, T2 quite frankly could have been set anywhere, with very few memorable locations (there are one or two exceptions to this), although the boys do re-visit a couple of locations the audience would fondly remember from Trainspotting, once again giving homage to the original film.
A strong memory of the first film is the excellently done camera work and scene transitions and none of that is lost in T2. Once again, clever camera angles make the character’s interactions as life like as possible and the very clever use of flashbacks and scenes from Trainspotting creates feelings of nostalgia not only for the characters remembering them, but also the audience as they recall their favourite scenes from the original movie. The score is once again fantastic, using songs and music from the original mixed with some very well chosen new additions to once more create a feeling of nostalgia. The opening scene in particular is an almost exact replica of one scene from the original, but clearly showing these are not the same men they were 20 years ago.
In conclusion: the original Trainspotting was a roaring success which left a lineage that has well and truly lasted the test of time, and although I feel that T2 is influenced heavily by its forefather, it is an excellent film in its own right. A thoroughly enjoyable watch which contains a great balance between comedy and intrigue, reminding, as the original did, to “Choose Life”.
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Ewan McGregor (Renton), Robert Carlyle (Begbie/Begbie’s father), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon), Ewen Bremner (Spud), Kelly Macdonald (Diane), Shirley Henderson (Gail)
Running Time: 117 Mins