Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle takes audiences back to the seedy back alleys of Edinburgh in his long-awaited and much talked about sequel to his cult 1996 black comedy Trainspotting, in the aptly titled T2 Trainspotting.
Boyle’s focus on his sequel’s story is rather simple: just what the hell has happened to these four loutish characters twenty years on? And the answers he provides are genuinely surprising. While the predicaments of some of the characters such as the soft minded Spud (Ewan Bremmer), and the psychotic Begbie (Robert Carlyle) are rather apparent given their life choices, other characters such as the formally charismatic Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and party girl Diane (Kelly Macdonald) have taken unexpected turns in their lives. And then there’s the everyman anti-hero of the original film, Ewan McGregor’s Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton, who knowingly betrayed his three friends more than twenty years ago, and who has been living in Amsterdam ever since. Following a sudden health emergency, Renton returns to his homeland and looks to reconnect with his past and those former friends, but of course, it’s not as easy as he thought.
T2 Trainspotting is a film that touches on both the familiar and the new. While Boyle showcases plenty of new hairbrained schemes and quirky outbursts that result from Renton’s return, it’s rather the analysis of the characters’ collective past and the choices that they made that makes T2 Trainspotting so compelling. While the idea of any kind of future was never a part of these four characters’ lives, the ‘future’ inevitably catches up with them, and the results make for a very interesting watch. By revisiting this world again Boyle is able to ask questions such as how our environment shapes who we are, and whether or not we can truly change as individuals.
While there’s plenty of introspection and thought, this is of course Trainspotting, and Boyle has lost none of the punk rock, anarchy of the original film. From Begbie’s psychotic new career choice to Spud’s attempt to kick his habit through boxing, there are plenty of perfect comedic gems that will have you laughing out loud.
T2 Trainspotting is also a gorgeous film to watch thanks to some amazing cinematography from Boyle’s frequent collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle, who uses his camera in some particularly complex ways to push the action of the narrative forward. Added to this is the kinetic cutting of editor Jon Harris which results in a highly watchable and exhilarating film experience, particularly in the initial confrontation between Renton and Begbie…an event that has been twenty years in the making.
Besides a superbly crafted script and cast, T2 Trainspotting also has one hell of a soundtrack. While the original film went hand in hand with the rise of the early EDM scene, the music here is far more nostalgically cool. It features innovative artists such as Blondie, Run-D.M.C., The Clash, Wolf Alice and a very clever use of Queen’s ‘Radio Gaga’. And it wouldn’t be Trainspotting without the appearance of Iggy Pop, and Boyle’s inclusion of the 70s punk icon is a fitting tribute to the spirit of this unique film experience.
Image source: Sony Pictures