Spotting trains. Doing heroin. Daniel Armstrong takes a look at the sequel to a genuine cult classic to find out if Ewan McGregor can still do drugs as well as he used to.
Over recent years we’ve seen the rise of the ‘20 years later’ sequel in movies like Point Break, the new Ghostbusters remake, and the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. While I can’t speak for the quality of the new Blade Runner (God I hope it’s good), T2 Trainspotting is easily the best ‘20 years later’ sequel this reviewer has ever seen.
Choose watching history repeat itself.
For those of you who haven’t yet seen the original, 1996 drama/crime/black comedy (what are you doing here – go watch it), Trainspotting mainly follows the life of three mid 20’s heroin addicts and one psychopath, who eventually find themselves in the position to make the biggest drug deal of their lives. And at the end *spoilers* Ewan McGregor’s Renton takes almost all the cash for himself, and disappears to begin his new life.
Choose your friends.
And so now, 20 years later both in the movie and in real life, Ewan McGregor is back as Renton, suddenly reappearing in the lives of his old friends – also still played by all of their original actors. This is one of the key parts that made T2 such a great sequel, you genuinely buy that all of these characters are the same people just 20 years later. The chemistry between the cast combined with the thorough understanding of what makes their characters tick almost makes you forget that they aren’t real people. Even without the first movie you could feel the history between characters after no more than a simple hello.
Choose leisurewear and matching luggage.
The actors and their respective characters aren’t the only recurring parts of T2, however, with director Danny Boyle back again as the only one who could have brought this sequel to life. His signature style from the first film is not only brought back for T2, but it’s been updated and refined for the 21st century, incorporating more elaborate and modern filmmaking techniques into the drug addled, hectic, and surrealist editing that Trainspotting is known for.
The freeze frame moments are back and while in the first movie they highlight that these characters live moment to moment without clinging to the past, this time around they show that these moments are important, and once they’re over the characters can never take them back.
Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning.
The ‘Choose Life’ monologue is also back, a key and iconic part of the original film, also updated for modern life. Shifting it’s focus from the overwhelming corporate based lifestyle that awaits these characters later in life; now setting its sights on the overwhelming tide of social media, and a world where you’re locked down by the choices you made before you really knew what they meant.
And that’s the real difference between the two films. Trainspotting focuses on youthful ignorance being stripped away by life, addiction, and the need to choose a path for who you will become in life, while T2 Trainspotting shows the results of those paths, and how these now grown up characters have to deal with the choices of their youth.
I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?
In the end, T2 Trainspotting manages to not only be the best of the ‘20 years later’ sequels, but also manages to recapture exactly what made the first film so great in the first place, and is truly worthy of it’s predecessor’s cult classic status.
Choose T2 Trainspotting, 9/10.
Still not going to try heroin though.
Feature Image and all images: Screencaps from T2 Trainspotting trailer via Youtube.