2o years in the making, T2: Trainspotting reunites us with Spud, Renton, Begbie and Sick Boy on more adventures in Edinburgh. A reunion a lot of fans, and also the cast and crew, have been waiting for, and with Danny Boyle directing a script from John Hodge, the film is a mixture of nostalgia and future endeavours.
Trainspotting is considered one of the best British films ever made, and its iconic ‘Choose life’ mantra, along with Iggy Pops ‘Lust for Life’ became the soundtrack of the 90s. So T2 had a lot to live up to.
We are re-introduced to Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), returning home to Edinburgh in the middle of a mid-life crisis and health scare, where he finds Spud (Ewen Bremner) wanting to end his miserable life, which has not much improved from where we last saw him, lying awake, in pain, unable to stop Renton from walking away with £16,000. Meanwhile, Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) is still trying to think up new business ventures and harbouring some resentment to his former best friend. And as for Begbie (Robert Carlyle)? His time in prison has not made him any less psychotic or less angry towards Renton.
T2 does not pack as much as a punch as its predecessor. There are no horrific images of babies crawling on the ceiling or much heavy drug use. But it is not shite in any means, and it is so much fun seeing the four back on screen together again.
By far the best part of T2 is Bremner as Spud. He becomes the heart of the film, the only one who is really searching for a future, and we see depths to the character who was barely touched upon in the original. Bremner can be physically hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time as Spud, and his talents shine. He is easily the real star of the film, and you will be rooting for him above everyone else.
Sick Boy and Renton form the central storyline, who renew their fragile friendship with an aim to build a brothel, with the help of newcomer Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), yet each of them has their own agenda. One of the highlights of the film is a scene with the two of them up to their old tricks, then improvising a song in a pro Protestant club.
And then Begbie, who pretty much steals every scene he is in with his intimidating presence. On the hunt for revenge against Renton, his character has changed very little despite his 20 years in prison, yet there is a vulnerability to him that hasn’t been seen before. If they do ever make a sequel to the sequel, it will be interesting to see what happens to Begbie.
T2 makes multiple references to the original. It examines the first one through the music and flashbacks (maybe a few too many). As the story draws elements from both the book Trainspotting and its sequel Porno, screenwriter John Hodges weaves together both new and old stories, which are edited together so snatches of the original film flash by. Boyle brings together themes of friendship and memory; as opposed to the first one where there was the joy and unlimited opportunities of youth, T2 is about the disappointments of growing older and regrets. The shared memories of the four friends are closely connected and that is where the core of the film lies.
Boyle, along with the wonderful returning cast and crew – with a great cameo from Irvine Welsh once again – has boldly made the sequel to the much loved hit of the 90s. But despite its great acting and well-observed tribute to Trainspotting, T2 just doesn’t feel as stylish or gripping as the first one. Even the soundtrack, brilliant as it is, is not quite as good.
But for any fans who want to want to indulge in the nostalgia and see these characters come to life once again, it is well worth a watch. Just remember, choose life.