T2 Trainspotting: an Acid Trip down Memory Lane

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Twenty years after director Danny Boyle introduced us to five Scottish junkies in Trainspotting, Boyle and four out of five guys are back in T2 Trainspotting. Spoiler alert: Tommy died in the first movie which explains his absence in this sequel. The cast and director are twenty years older now but not everyone aged as well, to say the least. Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller look great in their early forties but time didn’t spare Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle in particular.

Former friends Mark and Simon get back together
Former friends Mark and Simon get back together

T2 Trainspotting, like its predecessor, is set in Edinburgh. After living in Amsterdam for twenty years, Mark Renton (McGregor) returns to Scotland and pays an unannounced visit to the pub of his old friend Simon (Miller). If you remember how the first Trainspotting ended, you can imagine Sick Boy, as Simon likes to be called,  isn’t exactly excited to see his old pal again.

Another spoiler: The original Trainspotting ended with Renton running away with the loot from the robbery, leaving his accomplices completely penniless. To cut a long story short, in this film Renton tries to regain Tommy’s confidence and the latter is looking for revenge.

The great escape

Meanwhile Begbie (Carlyle), the only one who served time for the heist, obtains an early release from prison. One could also say he escaped. Surprised upon her husband’s early arrival, Begbie’s wife offers shelter, realizing he will be caught sooner or later. Planning on continuing the family business, Begbie involves his offspring in his next robbery. Little to the liking of the goodhearted soul of his brainy son.

Recovering drug addict Spud tries to make it as a writer
Recovering drug addict Spud tries to make it as a writer

The third subplot is perhaps the most surprising. Spud (Bremner), the professional laughing stock of the first movie, attempts to commit suicide but is rescued, or obstructed if you wish, by Renton who pays him a visit. As a newborn man he decides to do something with his life and writes his memoires on post-it notes. When Begbie reads one of the notes and finds out Spud is the only one who got a share of the money, the proverbial shit hits the equally proverbial fan.

Cherchez la femme

Unsurprisingly the movie includes several close encounters between the former friends. A funny scene is when Begbie and Renton sit next to each other in adjacent bathroom stalls and suddenly recognize each other’s voices. Also memorable is the cameo of Diane (Kelly Macdonald) as a lawyer. In the previous movie Renton had a one-night stand with Diane, who was underage as he found out when she walked to school in her uniform the morning after.

Mark Renton and Begbie meet again in the bathroom of a nightclub.
Mark Renton and Begbie meet again in the bathroom of a nightclub.

The character of Diane is of no importance in this movie however. Instead Danny Boyle focusses on the Eastern European Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) who happens to be Simon’s girlfriend and business partner.

As Simon and Mark become friends again, it is no surprise Mark and Veronika also become acquainted which doesn’t quite please Simon. What Veronika does in the end of the movie however, is a clever wink to the first movie.

Twenty some years later

As the cast and crew aged two decades, it is no surprise T2 Trainspotting is a more mature movie than it’s predecessor from the nineties. The soundtrack is not as impressive as in the film from 1996 but is still an asset to the film. Underworld reappear on the OST, as a thank you for thear big breakthrough as a result of the first film’s success. Lust For Life by Iggy Pop is once again the title track but this time it’s a cover version or remix rather by The Prodigy instead of the original classic.

Great camera shot: Mark Renton returns home after his mother's death
Great camera shot: Mark Renton returns home after his mother’s death

Director Danny Boyle who has proven not to be a one hit wonder after making Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours and Steve Jobs, still knows how to impress the audience with T2 Trainspotting. The cinematography is brilliant at times but sometimes he prefers to use strange camera angles which don’t seem to support the movie in any way. Needless to say: Anyone who loved the original story of the Scottish junkies will enjoy this updated and matured version of Trainspotting.

Official trailer for T2 Trainspotting