“20 years just flown by, yeah?” Spud (Ewen Bremner) says during a confrontation between all four main characters of the first ‘Trainspotting’; directed by Danny Boyle (who also returned to direct this sequel to the classic film) and based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh. It feels like 20 years HAS passed. I was about 2 years old when the first ‘Trainspotting’ came out, but being that I was a toddler at the time, was too young to even be aware of, or exposed to it. It wasn’t until 2014 when I watched the film on Netflix, and I had to say that it was a tolerable watch that didn’t strike me as one of the best films ever made, but was enough for me to anticipate this long-awaited sequel. Let me tell you that ‘T2 Trainspotting’ was worth the wait.
What Boyle has crafted with ‘T2’ is more than just a chance to reunite beloved characters from an almost 21-year-old classic (which The Farrelly Brothers have tried, yet failed to do with ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ back in 2014) to meet and greet as if a high school reunion has happened. It is a well-filmed, masterfully put-together auditorium of visuals, sounds, and performances in order to give the fans the emotional experience of getting to see what their favorite former heroin addicts have been up to in the last 20 years.
What I am about to tell you may sound like a ‘Where Are They Now’ ordeal, and the film plays like one near the beginning. But trust me! After 20 years, you will want to know too! Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is still living in Amsterdam after having betrayed his former best friends by taking drug money from them. This time around, we see a more mature Renton. He has changed entirely, after becoming free from heroin addiction for the past 20 years; he is choosing to live life to the fullest, but is still struggling with a few health issues from his near-death experience (a new heart). Spud is in a recovery program for drug addicts, but is struggling with depression and a loss of hope, which leads to him writing a story about his past experiences with Renton and friends; Sick Boy, now going by his given name “Simon” (Jonny Lee Miller) is a coke addict who specializes in blackmailing men who are involved in sexual acts with his new girlfriend/business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), in order to pay for her sauna job; while Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison for violent acts, which he ends up an escapee, trying to reconcile with his wife and son, but also dealing with sexual problems.
The trouble begins when Mark returns to Edinburgh, Scotland in order to make amends with Spud, Simon, and Begbie, but apparently, they are mostly betrayed. Spud is the first to accept his apology and works with Mark to make his life better. Simon is kind of accepting, but still unsure. While Begbie wants to kill him and is filled with intense rage.
‘T2 Trainspotting’ may not be as dark and disturbing as its predecessor, but it manages to still be as emotionally resonant with footage from the first film to help move it along when it seems to drag on. If you know these characters and have been through their struggle, then you will still care for them. The one thing that makes ‘T2’ stand out more than other sequels that take place decades after their first films is the way Boyle manages to include these characters and nods to the original film without becoming a copy. ‘T2 Trainspotting’ is what a true continuation needs to be.
For those directors planning on doing reunion sequels to their original films, take notes from Danny Boyle and watch ‘T2 Trainspotting’.