Low expectations can work wonders for a film, and while there is an element of that in our appreciation of T2 Trainspotting, it is in all fairness better than expected. It’s not as sharp, cutting or precisely incisive as the original film, but it does have its moments and there’s more than a little nostalgia in revisiting the iconic characters after so long away.
The story works well as a premise to justify the second film with an adaptation of Irving Welsh’s Porno that sees Mark Renton returning to Leith following years abroad in Amsterdam. When he gets back he finds that things have moved on a little, but that things are just as messed up as they used to be with Spud still battling his addiction and Sick Boy working as many angles as he can find.
He inevitably finds himself falling back in with the old crowd despite a little tension over what happened at the end of Trainspotting years ago. This culminates in Sick Boy’s plan to set up a spa of a certain notoriety, but with Frank Begbie on the loose and the rest of Leith’s underworld peeling eyes to keep a watch out for potential competition, things don’t really run smoothly for the trio.
There are some nice touches along the way including some smart satire and social commentary, but things are a little more preachy in T2 Trainspotting than they were back in the day. This isn’t too over the top, but it is noticeable and it kind of takes the edge off what could’ve been a more poignant film without the “you just need to do this” pontification.
Ewan McGregor does well enough as Renton, but the years have definitely taken their toll on his ability to bring the character to life in the same way he did back in 1996. However, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan Bremner and Robert Carlyle are pretty spot-on as Sick Boy, Spud and Franco. Carlyle looks much changed over the years, and there’s no chance of this version fitting in with Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist, but he’s got just enough unhinged menace to distress, although the Tarzan scene could have been dropped.
Newcomer, Anjela Nedyalkova, is an excellent addition to the cast, playing Sick Boy’s “girlfriend” Veronika. She adds a lot of style to the film and helps to cement the relationships between the rest of the characters.
The cinematography is more picture postcard Scotland than the raw and gritty realities of Leith that we saw in the first film. However, this is punctured occasionally with harsher close-ups of grim situations that draw the two films together.
T2 Trainspotting is probably a few years too late, but it’s nowhere near the dross that it could so easily have been. It may not add too much in the way of new and life changing ideas into the mix, but it is a solid story with good performances and a fuzzy walk down memory lane.
T2 – Trainspotting review: 3.5/5