In January 2009, Danny Boyle declared his wish to make a sequel to his 1996 film Trainspotting which would take place nine years after the original film, based on Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel. He was reportedly waiting until the original actors themselves aged visibly enough to portray the same characters, ravaged by time; Boyle joked that the natural vanity of actors might make the wait long. Fast forward to 2017, and the actors finally “look” the part. But it was longer than nine years.
In fact,T2 is a chance to revisit these unique characters and see how they’re doing 20 years later. At the end of the last film, Mark Renton betrayed his friends, and none of the men have seen each other since those days. There are obviously some strong feelings from the betrayal that finally get a chance to be reconciled. In a way, this is an extended epilogue of the last film, and this is an occasion where one has to be familiar with the previous film to not be completely lost in the sequel. The film starts off with Mark returning home due to a death in the family. He reveals that he has been in Amsterdam all of this time, and is a little nervous about returning home.
The actors easily slide back into their roles. Ewan McGregor becomes Mark again with his usual charm. Ewen Bremner’s Spud is still the most innocent of the group and Jonny Lee Miller’s Simon the most unpredictable. Robert Carlyle’s Begbie is at once funny and terrifying, Begbie is T2’s most interesting character.
The now more experienced director Danny Boyle refers to the first film in style, locations and even with a character recalling events from the past. The scene that was cut from the first film is now presented as a flashback where Begbie and Renton meet an old alchoholic who turns out to be Begbie’s father. Spud is still using heroin while, Simon is into cocaine and blackmail. Begbie is serving a long prison sentence, and vows to escape. The charm of this film seeps into black comedy, and is a little easier to watch than the first film, as far as content.
The one complaint that some people might have, and this is valid, is that the first film is actually cut into the sequel quite a bit. Sometimes its with visual effects and sometimes its with straight match cuts, cutting from past to present. But, it can be argued that the characters have changed so much, that the flashbacks to the first film show how time can be cruel to some people. It also deals with the problem of addiction in a new form, be it social media, escapism, and occasional illegal activity.
The soundtrack is naturally integral to the film, as was the first film. Some new tracks are here, as well as some that are from the past, such as Queen’s Radio Gaga.
The most positive thing I can say about the film is how much has changed since the last film, and if you are a fan of the original, then there is plenty to enjoy. I saw the first film when I was a teenager. Now, being a man, there are some points of maturity that this film underlines beautifully. That being said, the film will be lost on those who have not seen or heard of the first film. I feel this could lessen the appeal of it, but for me, I was happy to visit these characters again, for better or worse.