Trainspotting was, for many, a once in a generation film. Never before had a film about the realities of drug and substance abuse been released that also managed to inject itself with so much style, creativity and fun. Likewise, the realistic portrayal of drug abuse left an impression on audiences that has steered many away from drug use to this day. Now 20 years later, T2: Trainspotting asks how hard is it to kick the habbit, and does so in an artistic and profound fashion.
Ewan McGreggor returns as Mitch, a recovering heroin addict who abandoned his friends to start a new life, with the $16000 they stole together. 20 years later, a traumatic event brings Mitch home to find his former companions in various compromised positions. The cerntral idea of the film is whether or not we can escape our past actions, and if we can ever really change or grow as people. While the first Trainspotting shows how hard it was to choose life, Trainspotting 2 instead looks at what exactly life entails, and how much bad someone has to endure in life to get to the good.
Many elements from the original Trainspotting have become iconic outside of the film, from the ear worm-filled soundtrack, to the disturbing imagery during Mitch’s relapse. While it would have been easy to copy these moments for the sake of nostalgia, the sequel thankful adds to the originals aesthetic rather then try and repeat it. Director Danny Boyle’s eye for cinematography shines throughout, with even everyday shots of Edinburgh displaying an incredicle amount of beauty, even in such a mundane setting. Callbacks to moments in the first film are also subtly dealt with, reusing clips only as a means of showing character’s memories in relation to immediate events. Musicwise, the new tracks fit right in with the originals soundtrack, and beloved hits from the first film are used throughout, with one ending song hitting particularly hard for anyone nostalgic for the original.
Much like the films sense of style, the actors all fit right back into their roles from the original, and everyone is in top form. Ewan McGreggor is just as fun-loving and free spirited as Mitch, but with a more mature , introspective viewpoint at times. Johnny Lee Miller’s Sickboy/Simmon is a harsher, betrayed-feeling interpretation of his character, and you get a real sense of how his best friends betrayal has weighed down on him Over the past two decades. Robert Caryle also shines as Begbie, a deranged and unhinged sociopath, who plays this persona up for tension and comedy in equal measure.
And while a lot of attention will be paid to how fun T2 has with itself, this is by no means an upper of a film. While the dark imagery may not return as much by comparison, the sequel isn’t afraid to look at its characters in depressingly real portrayals. Ewen Bremner’s Spud, in particular, is the film’s clear tragic victim, as his life gets ravaged by simple mistakes, and leads him further down the hole that is heroin addiction. While we want to like our protagonists, the film doesn’t ever let us forget they are, ultimately, terrible people, and they often deserve the tragic fates that befall them. Without spoiling, the films final message thankfully doesn’t try to excuse our characters, or offer any kind of redemption, but rather looks at the peace that can come from accepting who you are, even if it’s something you’re not proud of.
If the sequel is guilty of anything, its a film that feels less immediate then its predecessor. The script for T2 doesn’t always run as smoothly as the sequel, sometimes meandering around or resting on nostalgic moments to keep the fans happy. There’s also an issue with how the film splits time amongst its characters, for while the four leads share equal importance to the story, Spud and Begbie tend to disappear for large stretches of the film. None of these flaws hurt the film overall, but it ends up making a great sequel just become a very good one.
T2: Trainspotting doesn’t try to replicate the original film’s success, and usually doesn’t revel in its predecessors fame. Instead, T2 tries to shatter the illusion that things always end up for the best. Sometimes people get hurt, and actions have unforeseen consequences. But even as it dives into this, T2 doesn’t forget to let its audience enjoy the ride towards this revelation, and even offers just enough light and hope to maybe make it all seem worth it. Even at its bleakest, it’s easy to Choose life…err, Trainspotting 2.
Arbitrary Numerical Rating: 8.5 Worst Toilets out of 10