Film Review: T2 Trainspotting

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It has been 20 years since Mark has stepped foot on Scottish soil. Ever since he done one over on his mates and ran off with £20,000 drug money. Now he’s back and not everyone is happy to see him, least of all Begbie.

Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova, Simon Weir.
Rating: 18
Release: January 27, 2017

5_star_rating_system_4_stars

Scots aren’t too keen on change. We’re stubborn and set in our ways. Of course, we try to make change and it happens all around us but we can get stuck in our own personal histories and ultimately, repeat them.

T2 expresses that outlook perfectly. Here we have four 40+ year old men who are back where they were 20-years-ago. Back to the drugs (some never left), back to the bad ideas where someone does someone else in and back to the town where it all started.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. Because once you have watched the film to the end, you notice that the cast have grown, even if just a little. It’s like a second growth spurt that was needed after the first one didn’t go down well.

We begin with Renton (Ewan McGregor) arriving back in Edinburgh from Amsterdam where he’s been working in ‘stock management software for the retail sector’. His life has taken a bit of a hit, so he heads back home and seeks out Spud (Ewen Bremner), who hasn’t had the best time the past two decades. He then makes his way to Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), who is now running a blackmail and prostitution racket with business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) as well as running his aunt’s pub. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) of course is Begbie. The man hasn’t changed. He’s stuck in jail and still a bit miffed about Renton’s betrayal all those years ago. He’s a man on a mission and getting out of jail isn’t all that much of a fuss for him (albeit a bit painful).

Here we have a sequel, which isn’t all about just telling us what happened next. It’s giving us a link to the past and a sense of nostalgia. Watching Renton making his way back in Edinburgh and comparing it to the original, you see how much Edinburgh has changed in the past 20 years. You kind of search for the little things that remind you how it used to be.

We have flashbacks to the original, with another mad dash run with Renton and his absolutely maniacal grin as well as video reels of the boys as kids. John Hodge has brought together aspects of Irvine Welsh’s follow-up novel ‘Porno’ and linked it back in with the first film to create this hectic, unruly, and yet frequently hilarious second helping.

Music has always been a critical point in these films. There are the familiar tracks but things have changed and the new music adds to that. This film is darker than the first. There is less humour and it is more grown up. The photography is outstanding and not as nit and gritty as ‘Trainspotting’ but don’t let these changes drive you away, there is plenty to keep you watching with a rather hilarious scene involving Renton and Sick Boy in a Unionist club, bar fights, night time chases across Edinburgh and of course, a mad scam with money and lives on the line.

But this film is more than just a nostalgia fest. You have the style and soul of the original mixed in with the new that shows you that just maybe, these guys have grown up and life hasn’t gone down the dump as it first appears. Life goes on and you choose how to live it.

Cross posted here.

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