20 years between films might seem long, but director Danny Boyle knew what he was about with T2 Trainspotting. Do you remember in the late 90’s-early 2000’s there was a massive treasure trove of well done indie films? This T2 (non terminator) really harkens back to that golden age of super special and important storytelling. The original film was based on the novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, and released in 1996 to tremendous acclaim. It’s STILL in the #10 space on the British Film Institute’s list of Top 100 British Films of All Time list, and rightly so.
Trainspotting followed the lives of young Scottish men from Edenborough and their struggles with poverty and heroin addiction. This sequel picks up 20 years after the end of the first, with the aftermath of the final job and consequent betrayal on the part of Renton (Ewan McGregor) to the tune of 20 thousand pounds. Simon (Johnny Lee Miller) is running his aunt’s declining pub, as well as a side business in blackmail. Spud (Ewen Bremmer) struggles with continuing junkie addiction and a special kind of hatred for Daylight Savings. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is incarcerated, but manages to break out and return home to his wife and son.
Simon is hell bent on revenge for Renton’s abandonment, Spud is just happy to have his friends back, and Begbie wants Renton’s blood. There are drugs, there is a woman, there is music. The soundtrack of course is a HUGE part of the film.
I don’t want to spoil your viewing experience but there are laughs at the expense of the characters, there are scenes of vomit and blood and drug use. I haven’t been so thoroughly invested in a cinematic sequel in a long time, and no, you don’t really “need to see” the first one to enjoy/get T2.
Here is a fabulous interview with Boyle from Consequence of Sound detailing the process of revisiting the black comedy after 20 years. Seriously, it tells you pretty much everything you’d want to know about the process of returning to these characters, I highly suggest reading the entire thing. One highlight though-
But we thought that if we go back, we need a real reason to believe in it. It has to have its own entity, almost like it isn’t a sequel. Rather than hitting as many buttons from the original – like with some sequels, that’s the philosophy – we thought it had to stand on its own. And then it can hit some buttons we want as well.
SCORE: 4.6 OUT OF 5, Will see again
The Bad: Sometimes a film will use drug iconography or paraphernalia that brings back memories of watching the people I’ve loved in my life destroy themselves. It’s why I have problems watching Breaking Bad (I really, truly can’t get through a single episode without horrible flashbacks). There are some scenes with heavy drug use, not as many as the first Trainspotting, but be prepared.
The Good: There is a brutal honesty in this cast, in the way they’ve aged and not completely grown up from the lads we knew 20 years ago. Some fucking BRILLIANT use of camera tricks to tell the story, shadows taking the shape of dead characters. AND- It sounds like we may get more of Begbie eventually.
T2 Trainspotting opens worldwide on Friday, March 24th 2017.