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Trainspotting 2


With Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson

Written by Mike Hodge (based on the books Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Time certainly doesn't have brakes, nor does it possess an emergency stop button(!) Two decades have simply flown by.

The 1990s gave us a truck load of fantastic movies, many changing the shape of the medium as we'd grown accustomed to it. Some of these gems include Goodfellas, Naked Lunch, Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Lost Highway, Glengarry Glen Ross, Man Bites Dog, The Matrix, Boogie Nights, Kids, Delicatessen, Big Lebowski, Malcolm X, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and… Trainspotting.

For those of us around and / or old enough to have seen the original Trainspotting, either love or hate it (not many in-betweeners). I was in London at the time of its release and remember the giant monochrome & orange posters in the underground like it was yesterday.
A sequel simply didn't seem very likely, since due to the recklessly dangerous lifestyles of the characters we'd expect at least half of them to end up dead sooner rather than later (some maybe even before the movie's end credits finished!). Furthermore, I started reading Welsh's 2002 sequel Porno (although never finished it), and wouldn't have expected the narrative of making a pornographic movie to be mainstream audience material - But, just a reminder, these are NOT family movies, and the first film made quite an impact, even with drug addicts from Edinburgh, Scotland, with all manners of graphic content, from drugs and swearing to sex and violence well represented, the drama all tied together with a lot of unique humour and style.

What seemed impossible to execute has been realized and they're all back (virtually) in tact! Renton (McGregor), Sick Boy (Miller), Spud (Bremner), Begbie (Carlyle), and even Diane (Macdonald).

It's a different world. Off drugs, Renton returns home from Amsterdam for the first time since ditching his friends in the previous film (fully aware there may be some serious blowback and retribution waiting for him). A bitter Sick Boy is managing his aunt's crappy pub, has a coke habit and tries to blackmail stand-up citizens with footage of them in compromising positions (aided by his Eastern European girlfriend) - the porn-making plot filtered out. Spud is exactly the same, still a mild mannered flake, still on smack. Begbie's psychotic personality landed him in jail, is as volatile as ever, and on getting out hears Renton is back in town… Not good!
Spud starts writing about the ups and downs experienced with his mates and Sick Boy ropes Renton into funding the set up of a sauna club / brothel - but they all get to take a cold hard look at their lives and face all kinds of amusing and perilous challenges, redemption and betrayal.

T2: Trainspotting evokes a bitter-sweet '90s nostalgia thrust into present day, and in the hands of the gang contributing to the introduction of a new breed of filmmaking via the original movie, they manage to draw us into the messed-up lives of these unforgettable characters once again, successfully reigniting unflinching screwed-up friendships (but friendships nonetheless). It's shocking how quickly twenty years have passed and makes you realize how much has changed, but yet stayed the same!
Naturally the characters already take you back, but furthermore the inclusion of flashbacks and replicated scenes echoing memorable moments from the first movie are wonderfully recreated.

Seeing the original even once leaves an indelible imprint on your mind and memories, the nostalgia (which many will embrace) is very much ingrained in the music and the emotions they stir up. Not many households didn't have at least one of the two soundtrack volumes at the time of its release, but three of the songs that became synonymous with Trainspotting include timeless tracks by Lou Reed (Perfect Day), Iggy Pop (Lust For Life) and Underworld (Born Slippy). Throughout the film there are crafty hints at these tunes, re-workings and a climactic eruption. Highly effective.

The stars aligned for a truly superb sequel that hit all the notes (leaving lots of room for new commentary), the original creative force of Irvine Welsh's source material adapted by screenwriter John Hodge, produced by Andrew Macdonald and directed by (the Oscar-winning) Danny Boyle, resulted in lighting striking twice (without a mere rehash).
It's a real testimony to great filmmaking in that they managed to make such vivid movies from such bleak subject matter, and manage to get us to sympathise with essentially rather terrible human beings (except for Begbie, he's just a nasty, irredeemable c*nt!)

What seemed like irreverent social commentary has become a timeless part of the UK cultural landscape (extending around the globe, as far as here to us at the southern tip of Africa).
And here's hoping the first film nudged you away from hard drugs in stead of making it appealing…!

If you loved the first Trainspotting movie, the likelihood of your affections flowing into the sequel is high. If you hated it, chances are you haven't read this far! And if you haven't seen either, best you make a plan to see the first movie and fill a gap in your '90s cinema education (After watching this sequel, I realized I don't own the original, so I ordered the director's cut DVD from Raru).

PS. Terminator fans like me obviously know James Cameron's second movie Judgment Day was known as T2, but hey, it's been over 25 years since that classic graced our screens.

5 / A
- Paul Blom

0 1 2 3 4 5 6
- A - B - C

6 - Volcanic
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temp.
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished

A: Multiple Viewing Potential
B: Deserves Another Look
C: Once Should Suffice

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