Let’s face it, Danny Boyle and the motley crew of drug fiends from 1996 are never going to top Trainspotting. The drug-addled, profanity-laden and all-round celebration of the rudest behaviour is provocative cinema at its baddest and best, and it is no surprise it has become a cult classic. I am sure anyone who has seen it will be able to bring to mind some of its inventive images – freaky babies crawling on the ceiling, diving into a pool of piss through the toilet bowl and literally going six feet under. The entire movie never preaches, stays artfully aimless, darkly comic, swims energetically in pain (and pleasure), but lets us enter the mindset of a druggie’s brain as it flies off in a zillion directions. The movie isn’t a cautionary tale, neither does it ennoble any behaviour; it is a safety net of a flimsy nature for us to spiritually experience heroin coursing through our veins. There’s no way it can be topped because to do that would be to actually have heroin injected into our bloodstreams through surgical needles in special cinema seats!
First there was an opportunity……then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
At a certain point in the film, Renton utters “Where did all go wrong?” and further down the film Simon says “It’s just nostalgia! You’re a tourist in your own youth”, which isn’t a reply to Renton but to what I feel is the crux of the film. T2 Trainspotting is just that and nothing more, a nostalgia trip down memory lane. It does feel like a sequel of sorts with a gathering of all the principals from 20 years ago and I have to say all of them have aged marvellously well. Boyle doesn’t do a greatest hits rehash in that all our favourite fiends have matured in a melancholic way. Although the crazy highs aren’t that high anymore, it is tempered with the realism of knowing that one’s body can never take the punishing drug doses anymore, especially when you are still suffering the consequences of heroin addiction and painful betrayal. The story takes a long time getting to the central problem and there are too many scenes that don’t affect where it’s going, and when they all collide it doesn’t go supernova anymore. However, there is a satisfaction derived from seeing these larger-than-life characters again, all angrier but not necessarily wiser. Don’t we sometimes age that way?
T2 isn’t a bad film. It is a good film that is assuredly made and it captures the elusive feeling innate in all of us – the desire of wanting to go back to where it all began and suddenly being overcome with profound sadness, knowing that the magic just cannot happen again. It may not be a full-on assault on the senses and your moral compass like its predecessor, but it still somehow manages to exude a warm and fuzzy feeling. It feels great to be able to spend time with these old fiends, I mean friends.
3 / 5