T2 Trainspotting (2017)

8:04 AM

Choose Life.
 T2 Trainspotting is the sequel to the 1996 cult classic and sees director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later..., Slumdog Millionaire) return. The film stars Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Fargo), Ewen Bremner (Snatch, Black Hawk Down), Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary, Hackers) and Robert Carlyle (Once Upon a Time, 28 Weeks Later). "First there was an opportunity......then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud, Sick Boy , and Begbie. Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.". Was this film just made to jump on the nostalgia train or was Boyle right in bringing us back to this story, 20 years later?...

I was planning to see this film but hadn't seen the first one. However, I found some time hours before the cinema showing to watch the first and I enjoyed it, it wasn't anything remarkable and I don't think it lived up to the hype of it being a classic but it was an enjoyable watch (71/100). T2 Trainspotting is still a solid film but it's not as good as the first. I think that's because the story/set up is so flimsy, it just isn't enough to fill a film's length so most of the time, this sequel adds nothing to the Trainspotting universe. That doesn't mean this is a bad film because I did enjoy watching - there are some funny moments, good performances and a perfectly fitting soundtrack. This will definitely please fans of the first one - it doesn't ruin anything - but I don't think it will be winning any new fans over. 

I thought the performances were good in Trainspotting 2 but not amazing - I wasn't blown away but I think all of these actors have truly become these characters over the years. For many of them, these roles are their defining roles. The Scottish accents are all strong with all of them. Ewan McGregor is the lead once again and he once again does a good job - this time his character is probably the most sane of the bunch - he has sorted his life out but he still has to deal with his friends who haven't really done much with themselves. I thought Robert Carlyle did a good job - it definitely came across that his character was angry. However, I feel like his performance was missing something - SPOILER - his character is basically the villain in this one but at no point did I feel he was scary or threatening until the final moments. I know this is because many people like the character so they don't want to turn him into a horrible, villainous person but still, Carlyle could have done a little more. Both of the other guys are good. The supporting cast are all pretty strong which was nice to see. I have to admit, I love Big Brother so when I saw James Cosmo (a current housemate), I did get excited. 

T2 Trainspotting lacks narrative - you could say the same about the first film but looking back that was all about a guy sorting his life out. However, T2 is about the same guy who is doing well but has to live with the ghosts of the past. The main plot point is the character's reactions to Renton (McGregor) when they see him for the first time since he stole the money at the end of the first film. Carlyle is obviously the angriest so it is that 'reunion' we most want to see as an audience. However, I honestly don't think this was central enough to the plot to make us care too much - it kind of became a subplot and the main plot was just watching these characters live. There's something about the script and narrative that could have been a little more interesting and captivating. However, I'm sure big fans of the original will be happy to simply see these characters live their lives. 

I think where T2 Trainspotting fails most is being a sequel - now I've seen the film, I don't see the point in it at all - it adds nothing. The only thing we saw that closed a chapter from the last film is Renton explaining to his friends why he did what he did. That's it. The rest of it is pretty pointless and this film was 100% made for the money and to jump on the nostalgia craze. I also found this film a little less intense and serious - that may be because there is much less drug use which meant less intense, trippy sequences. However, one scene that I really enjoyed was when Renton and Sick Boy (Miller) were attending the anti-Catholic event and were robbing the attendees. The subject matter may be a little taboo, but I think it made the scene even more funny (in a darker way) - the song was hilarious and then it was genius how they guessed their bank details. This was definitely one of the more memorable scenes in the film. 

The first Trainspotting is known for being quite a visionary film - I think T2 does have some of those quirky visuals still in play but there is less of them. The final scene of the film is quite trippy but the most interesting scene visually was probably when Renton is in the box of windows, Carlyle is on the other side and then the film cuts to them as children in the same positions - this was quite powerful as what happens later in this scene is pretty horrific when you think that they grew up together. 

I don't think T2 effectively executes a clear message - I think it is trying to build on the idea of living life to the full but I don't think it was as well done this time. What the film definitely gets right though is the soundtrack - I think all of the songs were fitting to their corresponding scenes and I can see fans of the film(s) listening to this. Not in a stereotypical way but I think T2 will be for men what Bridget Jone's Baby was more most women - I preferred Bridget myself but I think they are both returns to a series that the older generation didn't know they wanted or needed. 

T2 Trainspotting is a solid film with some good performances from all four of its leads. The narrative isn't very clear and as a sequel, this one really doesn't add much. The soundtrack is good and there are some cool sequences - Danny Boyle definitely brings his style. Trainspotting 2 is style over substance - there wasn't really a direction to go in after the first film so they've just done more of the same with no new character arcs but one interesting resolution. Love the first one? Go see it. Not seen the first one? This isn't necessary viewing. 


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