T2 Trainspotting. 2017
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova and Kelly Macdonald.
Set two decades after the 1996 cult hit, T2 Trainspotting sees the original foursome reunite as middle-aged men in Edinburgh, grappling with their past demons and present failures.
Nostalgia and money can be a hazardous combination in the film business, especially when it comes to sequels. While some follow-ups have genuinely added value to the story, many others have tarnished those beloved memories of the original. Fortunately, fans of Trainspotting can relax because Trainspotting 2.0 – or to give its official title, T2 Trainspotting – is an experience worth indulging in.
After 20 years away from home, a middle-aged and sober Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to escape his crumbling marriage in Amsterdam and, perhaps subconsciously, to face the demons of his youth. He’s soon reunited with Spud (Ewen Bremner), still a bumbling addict who’s now taken to writing autobiographical short stories, and Simon a.k.a Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), a cocaine-snorting swindler with an Eastern European business partner/girlfriend named Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).
Though Spud is delighted to see his old mate again, Simon hasn’t forgiven Renton for absconding with the cash from their drug sale. Simon imagines his £4,000 share would’ve led him down a more profitable path, instead of being stuck managing a dilapidated pub and using Veronika as bait to blackmail men with respectable jobs and kinky bedroom preferences. So, filled with rage, he aims to ruin Renton as he rekindles their friendship. Revenge also dominates Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) mind when the psychotic criminal escapes prison and discovers that Renton is back in town.
Screenwriter John Hodge deftly weaves together past and present in T2 Trainspotting, providing enough flashbacks to set the tone as well as creating a believable contemporary context for the ageing gang. Amid the fanfare, the 1996 cult hit was criticised for glamorising heroin abuse and rave culture, but this film certainly shows the grim consequences of unfettered hedonism. There’s plenty of humour, pathos and action, and the result is surprisingly poignant.
However, that’s not to say T2 isn’t without its flaws. The plot takes a few unnecessary turns, occasionally slowing the momentum, and audiences will probably lament the focus on Veronika’s character at the expense of Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald – both appear too briefly on the sidelines.
As for the four leads, McGregor, Miller, Bremner and Carlyle easily slip into their infamous roles – the chemistry is immediate and their performances are layered. But the true hero of T2 is really Danny Boyle. The film is infused with his frenetic energy, daring experimentation and trademark choppy editing style. It’s appealing audio-visual entertainment.
T2 Trainspotting may not capture the zeitgeist like its predecessor did, nonetheless this sequel is a welcome shot of adrenaline among January’s prestige dramas vying for awards glory.
T2 Trainspotting opens in the UK on January 27th.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★