20 years after the facts, Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie are back in business. Ewan McGregor (Renton), Ewen Bremmer (Spud), John Lee Miller (Sick Boy), Robert Carlyle (Begbie) reprise the roles that made them famous.
Mark Renton returns home. Twenty years have gone by. There was a betrayal back in the days and the wounds are still wide open. Sick Boy and Begbie are looking to strike a vengeance upon Renton. As usual, Spud doesn’t fully understand where he stands…
The original team, headed by director Danny Boyle, is behind this follow up to the triumphant Trainspotting (1996). The original film (both movies are based on books by Irvine Welsh) became a worldwide cult classic, also gathering rave reviews, sitting at #9 in BFI’s UK 100 best movies of all times.
T2 is an efficient vehicle, riding on the success of its predecessor. T2 has its moments (the singing at a right wing party for instance) and Boyle still has some visual tricks up his sleeve.
T1 was about the present. It featured a dark and ironic take on an era and a (counter) culture. It had a flavor defined with a fresh in your face approach. The editing was inventive , the extensive use of LOUD music provocative. T1 was filled with a violent dark humour. It was ahead of its time, it was the time. T1 had an overall atmosphere that stayed with you after leaving the theater. It had a spirit.
T2 has none of this.
T2 is a futile step by step exercise in unnecessary nostalgia. A cash in. It is basically a corny melodrama, a tale where the morality which was specifically denied to us in T1 is all over the place. We are left with a doubtful suspense story evolving around the question of whether Renton will get a beating or not at the hands of his psycho friends… but humanity will prevail. Are we getting old here? Well you can take my body part and do Soylent Green with it…
T2 is pretty well done for what it is, but problem is, it is pointless. This time around it tries to define its character by adding some kind of depth with an halfway character study. It just fails. T1 succeeded, strangely, in giving a sense of charisma to despicable characters. By trying to reverse the tendency it just kills it and reaches the point of annoyance. What also made T1 successful is the unsettling way music was used as an explosive noisy device of massive destruction. In T2 when it is loud, it is to cover the boring parts, the emptiness of the plot, to keep us awake.
T1 was a successful outsider to the industry, it was against the odds and it ages well because of that. T2 is a self indulgent insider, the product of an industry. It is already aging badly as these lines are written.