Movie Review: T2 Trainspotting


Director: Danny Boyle

Writers: Irvine Welsh, John Hodge

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee MillerRobert Carlyle

Verdict: Really great

Someone walked out of T2 Trainspotting during the opening titles. Before we even see Renton. Like less than 10 seconds. That has to be a bloody record. He was wearing a suit maybe he was high on coke and thought it was a board room I don’t know. I really liked it.

After 20 years Renton is forced back to Edinurgh for reasons that start off murky at best, and due to his betrayal at the end of Trainspotting; trouble, and regret, and past lives descend on both him and his friends.

Now people go into these belated sequels either with a sense of dread or cynicism depending on how much you liked the original. So in recent years we’ve had Jurassic World, Independence Day: Resurgence, Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Thing, and now we have Blade Runner 2049 coming out soon, all of which reached varying degrees of sucess. That’s not even counting the remakes like Ghostbusters, The Magnificent Seven, Cinderella, Total Recall, RoboCop, (seriously, leave Paul Verhoeven alone ok), and Point Break. So I guess if we’re getting them then at least make them good. The interesting thing is that this film doesn’t just look like a group of studio executives looked through a group of properties trying to decide what they can reboot; the story goes that when Irvine Welsh wrote the literary sequel to the book Trainspotting, Porno, the original screenwriter John Hodge, (Shallow GraveThe Program) had a crack at adapting it and everyone, Hodge included, thought it wasn’t quite up to snuff. Then the 20th aniversary of the original rolls around and Hodge has another crack, to catch up with the characters 20 years later, and it’s raw, and it’s personal, and it’s really good, and Danny Boyle, (Trainspotting), imediately sends it to all the actors. In terms of these reboots, T2 Trainspotting is no Mad Max: Fury Road, it’s no Trainspotting, but it is really, really good. 

One of the things I really liked about it was how much of what made the first film so incendiary and exciting and refreshing and different that it retains. In terms of the flights of visual fancy and surrealism, there’s nothing that quite hits the hights of the Worst Toilet In Scotland Scene or the Perfect Day overdose sequence from the original, but one early sequence involving Spud and Renton gets damn near close and had be doing that thing that Trainspotting has always done of putting me in simultaneously a melancholy, funny, and disgusted place all at once. It had me crying in like the first ten minutes and I was laughing too. I actually cried a lot in T2 Trainspotting in a way I didn’t in the original because it is a bit more melancholy. Whereas the first feels like a rebellious, drug fuelled descent into disaster from a group of young people who find themselves at odds with society paced at a breakneck speed, the sequel is much more in the minor key. It’s about being old and still being at odds with the world. It’s about wasted opportunities, it’s about getting old and hating it. As a 19 year old it suggests to me that feeling you have in your gut that you hate when your young that somehow the world isn’t right for you, that your just somehow an alien landed on some foreign world and not understanding the culture of the new people, that it never really goes away. 

It’s also different than most revival sequels in that it is in constant dialogue, not just with the original, but also with the novel it’s based on. The original novel being a collection of disperate short stories about all the characters and the movie focussing very much just on Renton, the sequel actually recounts one of the more key stories that ended up left on the cutting room floor from the novel. Spud at one point actually walks out and finds himself in the past. As Renton, this spirit from the past reenters the lives of his friends, they regress back to childhood. There’s actually a suggestion at the end that Spud is a bit Irvine Welsh which I’m not sure completely works but it makes emotional sense for Spud’s arc, which is lush by the way. 

I really liked T2 Trainspotting, it’s not just a rehash of past ideas and riffs, it’s something new and a real genuine extention of the first. I have to watch both again as soon as possible, mainly because it took me so long to relax into T2 Trainspotting because I was so nervous it’d live up to the first one, but also because of that dialogue between the two films. 


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