Twenty years ago, Director Danny Boyle and Writer John Hodge adapted Irvine Welsh‘s novel, Trainspotting, and the film became the highest grossing limited release film of 1996 and a cult hit. Now they are back with the sequel and we all know how sequels made decades later always turn out great, right? Right? How does T2 fare?
After a health scare, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland after living abroad for the last twenty years. This is the first time he’s been back since he robbed his friends after a successful drug buy, (sorry, spoilers for a 20-year-old film). Renton has successfully escaped the drug life he inhabited in the first film, but when he comes back, he finds that the more things change the more they stay the same. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still in a bad way and literally in the process of killing himself when Renton arrives, which Spud isn’t too happy with. Then Renton goes to see Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), who definitely isn’t happy to see him. However, Renton’s life isn’t going nearly as well as he’d like his friends to believe and he has returned because this is the only home he’s known. He begins to reconcile with Sick Boy, who plans to sell him out at a moment’s notice, but in all honestly, Renton’s interest in patching things up may have a bit to do with Sick Boy’s girlfriend/colleague, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova). They all start working on a plan where they can all make some money and then Begbie (Robert Carlyle) had to go and break out of prison.
I won’t spoil any more of the plot, but just know that T2 is a great, really fun film. This one has much more of a comedic bent to it, whereas Trainspotting had some black humor, but overall was pretty bleak. A lot of that comedy comes from the characters and the great chemistry all the actors established twenty years ago. This is a late sequel that doesn’t feel tacked on in the least. It feels necessary and vital. And don’t think that this is just a laugh-fest – there is plenty of drama to go around as the characters deal with drug dependency, aging, and generally being lost as life passes them by. Boyle also does a great job inserting nods and footage from the last film, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. They are nice touches to enhance the story and the first film is recapped so well, newcomers might not even need to have seen it to understand what’s going on here. But if you haven’t, you should definitely see the first one, as that experience enhances your enjoyment of this film greatly. It’s a great ending to these characters’ stories, but in all honesty, there is still some room for another episode if Boyle and his cast were up for it. For some of the characters, the ending is poignant, while for others, it feels like things have just gone back to normal for them.
The cast is absolutely fantastic, slipping back into these roles as if they just made the first film a couple of years ago. And while McGregor and Miller do great work, the real star of the film is Bremner, as Spud’s story arc forms the heart of the movie. Carlyle is terrifying as Begbie, which suits his character perfectly. Nedyalkova is captivating as Veronika. She plays the role to a tee and you’re never sure what her angle is, yet, no one in the film can say no to her. It was great to see some of the other original cast show up like James Cosmo as Renton’s father and Kelly Macdonald as Diane. Though, I have to say, I would have liked more of Diane in the story, because Macdonald is such a stellar actress and I would have liked more of her back and forth with McGregor.
Overall, I really enjoyed T2. It’s a great capper to the Trainspotting story and although there’s plenty of dramatic stuff to sink your teeth into, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.