Review: T2 Trainspotting

trainspotting

Twenty years on from what is widely regarded as a seminal film in both the career of Danny Boyle and the young Scottish cast but also for British film and the 90s in general, we get a sequel. Is it a cash-in, is it needed? I would say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ in that order.

Although not directly a film about drug use and abuse, drugs still play a large part in the story line and it’s still not glamorous. Just wait until Renton (Ewan McGregor) reunites with Spud (Ewen Bremner), you’ll see!

Yes, Renton is back after running off with the ill-gotten-gains at the end of the first film, his life has fallen apart after living for the last two decades in Holland. Upon his return, Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison but, coincidentally, has planned an escape after being looked over for parole, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) is a coke addict attempting to set up a brothel above his family’s pub and Spud, as previously mentioned, is still a heroin addict.

Basically, all four of the main characters are still as dysfunctional as they were in the 80s and 90s. Sick Boy and Begbie still hold grudges against Renton for what he did and go about trying to screw him over in different ways: Renton in as violent a way as possible and Sick Boy plans to use his money to front the cash to develop his brothel. Spud is angry at Renton because he left him on his own to succumb to his addictions.

What follows is a brand new story that has very strong echoes from Trainspotting, in some cases some flashbacks to the original film and in others flash backs that predate the film, back to when the four were growing up together before the drugs. One of these even reveals why these films are called Trainspotting.

All the actors are on top form, but the absolute stand-out performance comes from Bremner as Spud who, with some encouragement from Renton, manages to turn his life around by focussing his addictive personality on to other activities, with some surprising results.

Rather than being a cynical cash-grab by the infinitely more famous cast and director who are revelling in nostalgia, T2 Trainspotting is like meeting up with old friends and immediately falling into old habits as if no time has passed at all. This film is not as uncomfortable to watch as the first, but it still retains a jet black tone underneath all the nostalgia and comical situations. If you’re a fan of the original film this is especially unmissable.

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