T2 Trainspotting

The first time I saw Trainspotting was my senior year of high school. At the time, I knew that I wanted to get involved in film, and I really did for about ¾ of a year after I graduated. I looked at movies for their artistry and cinematography even at a young age. I was a band geek, so music was also things I would love about movies. I was deep for a 17-year-old, or so I thought any way. But I explain this to you so you don’t think that I loved this movie simply because of the drug use or humor it presented. I have always been of the mind to find something I like about a movie, watch it for what it is, and try to just find the enjoyment value (I know, weird coming from a film reviewer). I didn’t even have to try for Trainspotting. It was the complete package, and ground breaking. It also introduced me to Ewan McGregor, who is one of my favorite actors. I loved the movie so much, I bought Irvine Welsh’s book that the movie was based on of the same title, Trainspotting, which I highly recommend simply for the fact that it’s written in phonetic Scottish. I never picked up Porno, the literary sequel to Trainspotting, but I hear it is bizarre and will need to pick it up, but not because of this movie. I’ll explain in a moment.

Naturally, when the announcement was made for a second Trainspotting movie, I was both excited and terrified at the same time. The first was so good, why did Hollywood need to ruin it with a sequel that has a bigger budget. What was promising was that it was announced that the entire cast of characters (that survived from the first film) would be back, including Diane (Kelly MacDonald). But it’s been 20 years. Typically, when you see sequels come out even after only 10 years, the whole film seems a contrite, forced replication of the first. Hell, look at all the criticism for the Hangover films being exactly that, and they were only a few years apart. Whether the script feels forced just for the sake of a sequel, or the actors are trying too hard to be the character they played many years prior, it never quite works. So, as we neared the release date, I was getting more and more weary of seeing the film. Then, the trailer dropped.

Damn the trailer looked good. And I will tell you, the movie did not fall into the trap of forced sequels. The main cast came back and played the characters perfectly. Not as they were, but as the people they grew to be over the 20-year period. The plot was fun and pointless, with all of the same charm as its predecessor. I saw the movie with fellow SKNR staffer Joshua Aja, and we had a pretty good conversation following the film. We both came to the same conclusion, that neither of us could remember the last time we saw a film that just that good.

So now to the actual meat of the review itself. What was the movie about? Well, I won’t give away too much, but I will give you a quick recap of the events leading up to this film. Basically, do you remember the end of Trainspotting? Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) had successfully pulled off a heist, and Renton was making off with the money while everyone slept, except Spud of course who saw Renton leaving but didn’t say anything. As a result, Renton left Spud’s share of the cash for him in a locker. Okay; all caught up.

T2 Trainspotting picks up 20 years later. Renton comes back to Scotland because his mother passed away, he ends up reuniting with Spud, and eventually Sick Boy, who we now know by his real name, Simon. Begbie is in prison because, well… he’s Begbie, but he doesn’t stay there long. Tempers fly, old feelings flare, and not every reunited moment is met with glee. But soon enough, Renton, Simon and Spud are drawn into old habits, though not old drugs, and start to build money up to open a ‘sauna’ (read: undercover brothel) for Simon’s girlfriend, Veronika (Angela Nedyalkova). It’s not long before Begbie shows up and starts mucking things up leading to a suspenseful conclusion between Renton, Simon and Begbie.

That’s all I can say. There was an excellent use of the history from the first film, and of course we get another fantastic ‘Choose Life’ speech from Renton. The soundtrack, while not quite as good as the first, still holds its own very well. And be sure to look for the Bowie tribute, since it was he who helped Danny Boyle obtain a lot of music rights on the cheap for the first film. And, you will find Spud’s writings throughout the movie to be lifted, verbatim, from the Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. But what’s interesting, is that there is not a lot that relates this film to the literary sequel, Porno. Much of the plot of this film is taken from, or at least inspired by, parts of the book that were not used in the first film. That combined with some new writing and storytelling from Irvine Welsh and John Hodge.

Bottom line: if you liked the Trainspotting even in the slightest, you will absolutely enjoy T2 Trainspotting. A phenomenal job by cast, crew, and writers, and an excellent soundtrack will leave you wanting a trilogy. This is only the third film I have given a perfect score to in my 7 years of reviewing films, and it is well deserved. Go see this movie.

5 stars out of 5