It’s been 20 years since the original Trainspotting released. Definitely one of my all time favorite films. The kinetic energy, the drama, the heart ache, my boy Spud Murphy. Seriously, every character I name in any of the games I play goes by the name Spud Murphy (most people think it’s Potato Murphy….. I’ll forgive them). In high school, I read most of Irvine Welsh’s books. Trainspotting, Porno, The Acid House, Filth, Glue. I was fascinated by these flawed characters. With the announcement that we were finally getting a sequel to Trainspotting, I was ecstatic. We would be getting the chance to see more shenanigans from Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy & Spud. The entire original cast returning was the cherry on top.
Now, I know it’s been out since March, but I finally had the chance to watch it the other night (the hotel my wife and I were staying at had it playing, none of the theaters near us have shown it since it released) and I can’t say it had the same impact on me as the original. The film is such a departure from the novel. Danny Boyle is one of the best directors around, and the film looks great, but there are so many plot lines that get left unfinished that the story doesn’t really amount to anything. It’s not a bad film, but it’s definitely not great either.
The sequel takes place 20 years after Renton (Ewan McGregor) screwed over Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) & Begbie (Robert Carlyle), taking the money they received from a drug deal, while leaving $4000 to Spud (Ewen Bremner). Renton seems to have his life in order, having got off the “scag”. The others aren’t doing so well. Spud used the money to feed his heroin addiction, causing a rift between Gail (Shirley “Moaning Myrtle” Henderson) & their son. Sick Boy has inherited his aunts pub, but makes most of his money blackmailing men that he and his girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) lure into sex videos. Begbie is doing 25 years in prison, but is denied parole (he literally attacks his parole officer) due to his violent temper. Begbie manages to escape from prison, after being transferred to a hospital because of an accident involving one of his cellmates. This begins his quest for revenge against Renton. The other characters aren’t really that interesting, with the looming threat of Franco in the background. The cast are all great, reprising their roles perfectly. Danny Boyle does his usual magic behind the camera. One particular scene involving Renton trying to save Spud from suicide is breathtaking.
Porno, the book the film is loosely based off of, had some pretty hilarious moments in it. A lot of that humor comes from Sick Boy trying to make a XXX film in his pub. There are some truly outrageous things that happen, which would have been great to see brought to the big screen (think Zack & Miri with thick accents). In this film, Sick Boy ends up partnering up with Renton to start a brothel. This doesn’t even amount to anything, their plans botched. Renton has an affair with Sick Boys girlfriend Veronika, and there’s no consequences. Sick Boy gets sued by one of the men he’s filmed on a sex tape, and then nothing comes from that. Things happen in this film and there’s no pay off. When it ended, I honestly didn’t understand what the point of anything was that happened in the film. With the original, we followed the story of Renton. We watched him go from heroin addict, to reformed citizen who wanted to make a change in his life (at the cost of his friends no less). The other characters fit into his story, but it was really Rentons journey. We saw him change throughout that film, but not in this one. All the characters get screen time, but their stories don’t mesh. Spud is the only one that gets some sort of a proper ending. Throughout the film there are flashbacks to when they are kids, which shows they have history together, but like I said, this doesn’t amount to anything. Maybe this is just all part of the charm of T2, and I’m not seeing the bigger picture, but as a first time view, I wasn’t impressed. I guess I’ll just have to watch it a few more times and then I’ll love it?
It’s a shame because I had really high expectations for this one. The acting and directing are great, but the film as a whole just doesn’t mesh compared to the original. There are some memorable scenes, but they can’t carry the film to greatness. As a huge fan of the first movie and the novels, it hurts to say this, but T2 Trainspotting is the first big disappointment of 2017 for me. – NVJ