By Travis Martin
In 1996, the film adaption Irvine Walsh‘s “Trainspotting” was release and not only became an enduring Scottish film, but an iconic film in general. It jumpstarted the career of director Danny Boyle, where this film was his second, and made characters Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) icons of the Edinburgh’s heroin scene. However, with a sequel, titled “T2: Trainspotting,“ coming out 20 years after the original, does this film live up to the standards of the original? To me, “T2” is a worthy successor to “Trainspotting,” and is great in its own right.
The film, taking place 20 years after, centers on Mark “Rent Boy” Renton returning to Edinburgh from Amsterdam after a health scare. There, the gang is dealing with as much baggage as Renton: Daniel “Spud” Murphy is still struggling with his heroin addiction and providing for his ex-lover and son; Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson is running his aunt’s debilitating pub/brothel, running a blackmailing scheme, and is addicted to cocaine; and Francis “Franco” Begbie has escaped from a 20-year prison stint.
First off, all the performances are A-grade, with each of these four actors giving both the same crass wit and sardonic behavior from before. However, there’s also an aura of age and regret to all four of them. McGregor and Miller have excellent presence to losers Renton and Sick Boy and there is a touch of sympathy toward’s Carlyle’s psychotic Begbie as he reenters society. Despite this, the standout performance has to go to Ewen Bremner as Spud, whose sweet but painful character ark is fascinating to watch. If there is one character I am glad that learned to choose life, its Spud.
Boyle also brings the same “Trainspotting” excitement to his direction for “T2,” but with the same maturity that the characters now have. While some parts of the film are edited together unorthodoxly, there’s an enduringness to it that fits with the film’s tone. Nonetheless, the abstract imagery from the previous film is dampened down, but it fits with characters that have overcame or are overcoming addiction.
If there are problems that I have with the film, returning or new side characters are not as interesting since the focus is on Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie. While the music choices are good, they’re not as iconic as the original film’s soundtrack. I did enjoy the synthesized cover of ‘Lust For Life’ by Iggy Pop, but would have rather had the original.
This is a passionate sequel that succeeds in complimenting the original work. Powerful performances and a great direction allow this film to succeed where other long developing sequels fail. In my opinion, in order to fully experience what this film offers, you must see the original “Trainspotting” before seeing this. While it may not live up to the original, “T2: Trainspotting” is worth watching.