Dir: Danny Boyle, 2017
Easily one of the most anticipated films in cinema history, the boys from Danny Boyle’s acclaimed 1995 movie are back to Scotland upside down.
After stealing £16,000 from his friends Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) twenty years earlier, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to his hometown to make amends. However, his return isn’t welcome and his friends aren’t so forgiving.
Very loosely based on Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh’s own sequel, Porno, Boyle’s film takes the characters and runs in a different direction, creating a whole new plot.
Porno is an incredibly difficult book to read, being written in the Scottish dialect. Crammed with colloquialisms and slang, the novel is an headache, but an interesting story. Alas, struggled as I did, I made many attempts to read Welsh’s prose, all to no avail, so am unable to compare this film to its literary counterpart.
T2 Trainspotting is a more “grown up” film than its predecessor. The maturity isn’t just necessarily the characters, but it’s a twenty year maturity of the director. Whereas Trainspotting is a bleak, downbeat and ultimately depressing film, there is a fire of aggression burning eternally through it. This sequel is mellower and softer, lacking the ferocity, squalor and realism that was so evident in the 1996 movie.
But, saying that, the film feels rather disjointed and haphazard, as if the film doesn’t really know where to go.
An abundance of plot holes and unanswered questions, cause a level of frustration that hangs heavily over the film casting a shadow. An example of this a “shooting up” scene between Renton and Sick Boy. An ex-heroin addict, Renton has been clean for over twenty years and living a healthy lifestyle of exercise. Renton wouldn’t take a hit of the drug so willingly, especially as he’s armed with the knowledge that that one shot could send him spiralling back to how he was. It’s out of character. Renton is a wise man, fully understanding the waste of life that being a junkie is. He chose life.
Events are eluded to, but never elucidated. It can be easily be assumed that Begbie is in prison because of the events of the first film. If not, then what did he do to get sent down? Serving a 25 year stretch, Begbie has a 17/18 year old son. How could he? The timeline doesn’t tie up. A passing comment is made to Swanney to being dead, but that’s it. A character that was important to the plot of the first film, is casually shrugged off. How did he die? Overdose? Murder? Suicide? Illness? Natural causes? A little bit more of a backstory wouldn’t have gone amiss.
T2 Trainspotting is less grounded in realism, than its predecessor. Where the original had a very hard-hitting story and was entirely believable with its story of heroin addiction, this sequel has a more fantastical element to everything. A sort of, comical caper.
The harsh language that was so prevalent in Boyle’s 1996 adaptation, is toned down, here, but only a smidgen. Begbie’s constant employment of “fucks” and “cunts”, that made the character so memorable, is of a lesser quantity and severity.
T2 Trainspotting isn’t a bad film, and nor is it a great one. It’s just enjoyable. What is a surprising aspect for sequel, is that it is no better or worse. The film is on a par. An even keel, you might say.
An enjoyable time is to be had from watching this. Less frenetic and a lighter emphasis on pop culture, T2 Trainspotting is a worthy sequel, providing two hours of fun, if forgettable, entertainment.