This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“T2: Trainspotting” brings back the original cast; Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremmer, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle are all back, and once again Danny Boyle is back as director.
This movie picks up after the conclusion of the first film. Renton played by McGregor comes back to Scotland after 20 years of living in Amsterdam. He has kicked the drugs that nearly ruined his life, and when he returns home and sees his old friends; Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy, Renton realizes that the past doesn’t always forget, that time doesn’t heal all wounds, and that some relationships can be changed forever.
Now I know what you may be thinking. This is a sequel that has taken two-decades to come to fruition. We know how this will turn out given we have seen this happen, a handful of times over recent years to no success. I will also admit this movie was nowhere near the level of impact the first “Trainspotting” captured with its characterization of these kids that get wrapped up in the world of heroine.
But this was still a solid movie, a very good sequel, and a fun nostalgic ride for anyone who was a fan of the first one, or the characters. Admittedly these films aren’t for everyone, the humor and the drug fueled subject matter will certainly not appeal to all.
I happen to love the first “Trainspotting”. It came out when I was a senior in high-school and while at the time I thought it was fresh, highly unique and cool, I guess you could say. I still, as a teenager watched this film as a cautionary tale given my life at the time. Watching the young characters lose control of their lives was something that even at the age of 16 or 17 was something that captivated me for some reason, but it also warned me. And to be honest this was a movie that never even needed a sequel.
So, with all that said the chances of this film, being better than the first were impossible. But it is a solid film that stands on its own, with a compelling continuation of all the characters that made the first film the great one it was. With all the returning cast coming back the chemistry and character dynamics we able to pick right up where they left off, and it was awesome.
It was interesting to sit back and watch the older versions of the characters and the turns their lives had made. The impacts of their childhood on their lives, were still visible in different ways for each, as were the ways they dealt with the remorse of the some of the things they did as kids. Something this story did a solid job of conveying through the dialogue.
The performances were all fantastic, everyone clearly looked like they wanted to do this sequel and it shines in their chemistry. You could see they all enjoyed going back to play these characters once again and it gave the film the charisma that made it so fun to watch.
The story was well written, the snarky Euro humor was well placed, it was very effective and created some laughably organic moments between the cast. The humor was more, somber than I was expecting, but it did sort of fit the reflection of life tone the script had.
I also thought Danny Boyle’s direction and the cinematography of Anthony Dod Mantle were very well done, and together weave a beautiful movie. There were some subtly brilliant moments, one in particular was where Spud is fighting his inner demons.
In this scene, he is curled up against the wall, staring at these drugs in the center of the room and he is fighting not to go over and get his fix. Spud is struggling immensely, and the performance of Ewen Bremmer was perfect, but down the wall from him, you can see his shadow figure bending down to pick up the drugs, as he begins to prep them.
The lighting and camerawork capture this scene perfectly and it was subtle things like this that really built the intrigue for me. This one also uses the nostalgia in just the right way. Images and clips from the first film are used to tell the story and capture certain moments and it was well done. This movie doesn’t force the first one on you, and displays plenty of effort on wanting to be its own film.
On the down side the story did take a little long to develop and really this movie doesn’t get going till the second-act. Also, the movie is a little too polished. The first film was a low-budget project that felt gritty, cold and fit the mood and tone of that story perfectly. This one was missing that, but it didn’t drop the enjoyment at all, just didn’t provide that strong element that made the first one so impactful.
Overall, “T2: Trainspotting” was a solid sequel. It was an entertaining film that gives us more of the well-developed characters that made the first film great. You do not necessarily need to see the first movie before going into this one although it would provide some helpful moments of context. But the way the writers bookend each film makes it easy to watch this one then, go back to see the original as sort of a prequel.