T2 Trainspotting has finally pulled into the station it’s just a shame it’s a steam train, a bit of fun nostalgia certainly, but not much else.
Picking up 20 years after Trainspotting left off we meet up with the ‘heroic’ heroin addicts, Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton, Daniel “Spud” Murphy , Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson and of course Francis “Franco” Begbie, who’s been in jail ever since Mark stole his money at the end of the first film.
While the first Trainspotting revelled in the hedonism of Nineties drug culture the second embodies the new Millennium and how gentrification has changed everything in Edinburgh , well changed everything except our three favourite skag heads and their psychopathic mate.
You see despite the shiny new facades our three protagonists, just like the city, are as shady as ever, and when a health scare brings Mark back to Edinburgh the new steel and glass exteriors begin to crack.
Throughout the film there’s a constant visual of the scrap heap and that’s exactly where our ne’er-do-well protagonists find themselves at the start of the film trapped on the scrap heap of life.
The parallel between the boys and their surroundings is a nice one because it’s fun to see how life hasn’t really changed including one bitter sweet moment where Renton wistfully updates his ‘choose life’ speech and reflects on what he always wanted.
Speaking of the boys the cast are all fantastic but it’s Ewen Bremner as Spud who really stands out, transforming from a rather pathetic comedic figure to a full rounded character more aware than any of his friends give him credit for.
Director Danny Boyle also has a couple of really interesting and surreal visuals which compete with the first film in terms of impact, most notably his use of footage from the original film.
So far so good right? Well I’m afraid this train’s about to hit delays, there’s a tortured metaphor on the line.
While it was cool to see everyone back on the big screen I couldn’t help but think, to quote the film, that Boyle was on a tour of his own youth and it resulted in nostalgia overload for me.
Sure revisiting all the old landmarks is entertaining for those of us who’ve seen the first film and seen the sights already but if you come into this with fresh eyes I worry it just doesn’t work.
Throughout there are strong parallels to the first film and while I understand it’s supposed to represent some form of cycle of self destruction I just couldn’t shake the notion it felt like the cinematic equivalent of ‘NOW! That’s What I Call Danny Boyle’s Best Hits’.
Ultimately my main problem with T2 is it feels unnecessary, when Renton walked off into the smoggy London sunset at the end of the first film there was a wonderful ambiguity about where he’d go now he’d chosen life.
Well now we know, right back to where he came from, which is fine. It just doesn’t feel very fulfilling.
T2 is a good film, it’s well shot, well directed has a superb cast and is entertaining enough but compared to it’s predecessor it’s more Northern Rail than Virgin.