Thanks to Sony Pictures Releasing we had the chance to see ‘T2 Trainspotting’ before its cinematic release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!
How do you follow up a movie as iconic and self-contained as Trainspotting? You explore your characters faithfully and make a movie that’s good on its own terms. And T2 Trainspotting is very good.
His life in Amsterdam falling apart, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to visit Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and make peace with Simon “Sickboy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) after stealing his share of their big heroin deal. The psychopathic Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is serving a 25 year prison sentence, and Renton has factored this into the safety of his return.
Poor Spud has returned to heroin after failing at gainful employment, and Renton’s visit saves him from a terrible fate. Renton and Simon initially fight and then decide to work together after discussing how their lives have turned out. Begbie, however, has other plans and injures himself to escape prison with revenge on his mind.
McGregor, Miller and Carlyle are on top form, but the heart of the film truly belongs to Bremner‘s hapless Spud. As much as Begbie is a terrifying antagonist who makes you root for Renton and Sick Boy’s victory, Spud’s life is so abject, his failings so wretched and his character so gormlessly likeable that it’s him you’ll want to succeed the most.
Is it as good as the original? Well, no. It lacks the sheer intensity of that film, but that’s only fair given its subject matter. The original was a glimpse into a shocking form of nihilism that was genuinely bracing. That film influenced popular culture to such an extent that to try and precisely recreate it would be redundant. A good (extremely black) comedy and thrilling crime film in its own right, T2 explores the disillusionment of middle age and wallowing in nostalgia by engaging in a little of its own wallowing. For us viewers of a certain age, it’s hard not feel some of the characters’ concerns about life escaping you as you watch them and realise you have aged as much as they have. See it!