the first look at 'trainspotting 2'

T2 rides a wave of nostalgia back to the big screen, but 20 years on the boys from Leith still have that 'Lust For Life.'

by Matthew Whitehouse
20 January 2017, 3:02pm

"This isn't going to be shite is it, Danny?" is the question director Danny Boyle was reportedly asked by his cast during the making of this, the much belated, much anticipated, follow-up to his 1996 cult classic Trainspotting. The short answer is, well, no. It isn't shite at all. In fact T2 is exactly what anyone could have hoped for really — funny, unsparing, and full of the same nostalgia that haunts its characters 20 years on.

Borrowing elements from Irvine Welsh's literary sequel Porno (with Boyle and returning screenwriter John Hodge very quickly discarding them), the film picks up in real time as Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to confront the events of 20 years ago. There's Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), now a cocaine abusing extortioner and would-be brothel owner, and the desperately sad Spud (Ewan Bremner), mind-addled by the intervening years of intravenous heroin use. The genuinely terrifying Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is both out of prison and out for revenge.

So far, so familiar. In fact, the film has shades of the Force Awakens school of remakes, taking much loved elements of the original and updating them in clever, self-referential ways: Renton on a car, the familiar pounding of Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life," a series well timed cameos (chiefly the brilliant but underused Kelly Macdonald).

Where T2 differs, however, is in how world-weary the characters have become. Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller possess the same chemistry as old when they sit together on the sofa, but the middle-aged pair's conversations are now dominated by nostalgia. Heartbreakingly so. "Why are you so obsessed with the past?" Sick Boy's new business partner, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), asks them at one point. The same reason many will pay to see the film, really: to feel a connection with something from their youth. To ask, "how did we get here?"

It's a clever move on behalf of Boyle. While the film does occasionally become a little bogged down in self-reference — despite fast-paced and now well-honed directing, its numerous flashback scenes make it a little long — T2 makes no apologies for being a sequel. In fact, it revels in it: from the repurposing of the much loved soundtrack to its set piece comedic scenes (of which Renton and Sick Boy's musical turn in a Loyalist bar ranks as good as anything in the original). Boyle could have chosen to make anything as the sequel to Trainspotting and people would have flocked to see it. Thank god, he chose this. 


Text Matthew Whitehouse

Film reviews
T2: Trainspotting
film news
film reviews trainspotting