In 1996 a film called Trainspotting launched the careers of a little known Scottish Director Danny Boyle and a Scottish actor, Ewan McGregor. Twenty years, numerous films and awards later the pair revisit their past, both literally and figuratively in the sequel T2 Trainspotting.
Based on the work of Scottish Author Irvine Welsh, T2 follows the old gang consisting of Renton, Sickboy Begbie and Spud. Set twenty years after Renton stole off to Amsterdam with £16,000 from a heroin trade, he returns to Leith to find that while the city may have changed, his friends certainly haven’t. Spud’s still a junky, Begbie’s in prison and Sick-boy is still angry about Renton’s theft, planning his revenge.
The plot itself feels a little contrived, with story elements brought up only for them to be ignored or resolved 5 minutes later. The problem is that there is nothing to really hold on to; we just watch the characters move from one vignette to another with the thinnest of narrative threads. For example, Sick Boy, his new girlfriend, Veronika, and Renton try to start a brothel, but due to being intimidated by a larger organisation they drop their goal almost immediately.
Similarly, there seems to be an over-reliance on the past and original film with cameos of old cast members and flashbacks to times gone by. This constant reminder of the original is a blessing and a curse; a blessing because it fits the theme of the film, but a curse because it just made me think that I could be watching the original instead. There are also not many great memorable musical moments in the film. While the original has Lust for Life By Iggy Pop, and Born Slippy by Underworld, which both make an appearance in T2, the only memorable song on the soundtrack is Silk by Wolf Alice.
But you aren’t watching T2 for the plot, you are watching for the great characters. The old cast returns for this wild trip down memory lane; Ewan “Obi-Wan Kenobi “McGregar’s Renton is as morally dubious as ever. Hackers’ and Elementary’s Johnny Lee Miller turns in the slimiest performance as Sick-Boy, full of venom and cocaine, while Robert Carlyle, from The Full Monty and Once Upon A Time, becomes a psychopathic force of nature as Begbie. However, I must say Spud stole the show for me. Played by veteran character actor Ewan Bremner, Spud’s arch of redemption is a perfect bit of character writing.
You’re also watching for the fantastic cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle who’s energetic camera moves and vibrant colour palate is reminiscent of Brian Tufano’s original work. That coupled with Jon Harris’s creative editing makes the film visually interesting where the story is somewhat lacking.
T2 certainly has some major problems that prevent it from attaining the classic status of the original film. But to be honest, the film is fun, funny and exciting to watch, with slick photography, interesting editing and a group of characters that feel real and alive; it is a film well worth the price of admission.