Waiting 20 years for a sequel garners a certain level of expectation from a film. So for a cult classic like Trainspotting the hype has been ever present since its announcement. But does T2 (no Arnie in sight) live up to its predecessor?
Yes and no.
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after a twenty year hiatus in Amsterdam due to robbing his best friends of £16,000. Edinburgh is not as he left it. He’s returned to a world of fancy bars, attractive Eastern European girls and snapchat filters. Understandably his friends are a bit miffed with him. He visits Spud (Ewen Bremmer) first and eventually becomes embroiled in a new money making scheme with Sickboy/Simon (Johnny Lee Miller). But it doesn’t go completely to plan. After all there’s always an opportunity and a betrayal. And there’s a visit from a very angry man to contend with.
Alongside the original cast Danny Boyle makes a return in the director’s chair and of course he knocks it out of the park. There’s something absolutely unique about Boyle’s direction and it’s like an additional character in its own right, an old friend to welcome back. The cinematography is stunning too, back are the wide angles, urgent close ups and rapid transitions. From the very first image, despite its contrast to what we are used to, we know that Trainspotting is back.
The pacing is deliberately slow for the first act and equally deliberately breakneck for the last half. It’s been twenty years and our unlikely heros have a lot to catch up on. However this is where the film falters a little. There’s a hell of a lot of fan service on show and it doesn’t always play into the story. It’s a tad gratuitous at times. There are points where it works very well but this makes the times that it doesn’t really pull you out of the tale.
Out of all of these characters Spud is the most interesting. The journey he has come on and is still battling through is heart warming and heart breaking in equal measure. Whereas he was mostly a sideline character in the original film and reduced to mainly comedic relief he is pivotal to the events of this sequel. The chemistry between Ewan McGregor and Johnny Lee Miller is spot on and Robert Carlyle is suitably terrifying. Begbie (Carlyle) is much more human than he was before, a deeper insight into the character is revealed and you can’t help but feel a bit sympathetic to this violence fuelled nut job. They all work terrifically together and it’s hard to think of this reunion of ‘friends’ going down any other way.
Trainspotting was a movie about young kids trying, but not too hard, to get off heroin. T2 trades this in to look at the very true to life consequences of their actions. At times it barely feels like a sequel but then you’re suddenly hit with such a sense of the style, humour and depth that made the original so popular that you can’t help but love it all the same.
written by Bradley Allen