T2 Trainspotting Review: Choose Life!

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The Boy(le)s are back in town. Director Danny has finally bought us T2 Trainspotting. 

Released back in 1996, Trainspotting was a dark and comedic tale told through lives of four main characters within an economically depressed area of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Dealing with mature themes such drug addiction and poverty, Trainspotting was a horrifying look at heroin life, and the influence it can have on both your mind and the people around you. Its portrayal of addict culture, surreal hallucinogenic imagery and editing style made it an instant hit both in the UK and to international audiences. To date, critics still regard the original as a classic, with organisations such as the British Film Institute ranking Trainspotting as one of the Top 100 British films of all time back in 1999. And I’m pretty sure there have been, like, hundreds of British films.

After re-watching it last month, I am definitely inclined to agree with critics and the legacy that it holds. While Slumdog Millionaire remains one Danny Boyle’s best films, I believe that Trainspotting definitely cemented his career as a director. Now released in cinemas, Danny Boyle gives us T2 Trainspotting, the long awaited sequel to Boyle’s original 1996 masterpiece.

Based loosely off Irvine Welsh’s book Porno (as kinky as it sounds), T2 takes place twenty years after the initial events. After living in Amsterdam for the past twenty years (always a good place to go to get away from drugs), Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to visit his long lost relatives and face his friends once again.

Following the events of the first film, it would seem that life hasn’t been too nice to Mark and his fellow junkie mates. Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewan Bremner) remains a serious heroin addict, which in turn has impacted both his marriage and career path. Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) now deals in growing cannabis, blackmailing old rich guys, and operating a not-so-successful pub. Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is serving a 25-year sentence, constantly being denied bail due to his violent temper.

While the first film certainly gave a lot of focus on Mark and his heroin addiction, T2 gives a lot of attention to each of the four main characters.

Spud and Franco might’ve taken a bit of the spotlight from time-to-time, but T2 does a bang-up job in establishing their inner personalities and shining some light into their conflicted pasts.

Take for instance Franco, a violent psychopath who, much like a superhero without powers and who doesn’t love morality, is happy to throw a punch at anyone who gets in his way. Throughout T2, audience members are given some insight into Franco’s life as a failed parent, the path he chose for himself and the issues he has in understanding his son’s career path.

While on the outside it’s easy to brush off Franco as a violent street thug, T2’s focus on him as a parent, him reflecting on his life choices and him coming to terms with his own abusive past, illustrates to audience members that there is more to this man than just his fists.

I think my only gripe about this film is its chances in attracting some of the younger audiences. With T2 Trainspotting released as a sequel to a 21-year-old film, it’s hard to imagine this doing well with people in my age demographic (I’m like, really really young).

A lot of the movie focuses heavily on the events of the first film, with references here and there to specific plot points that happened throughout its progression. While I certainly enjoyed my time with this movie, there were times throughout where it felt like a 20th-anniversary reunion feature, more so than its own separate film.

But with that said, T2 Trainspotting is everything I expect from the sequel.

The editing, the story, the constant reminder that drugs are bad, the music and the visuals are true to form with what made the original so great, with the signature phrase of ‘Choose Life’ resonating with viewers like myself. If the first movie was all about escaping from your negative influences, T2 is all about coming to terms with your past, facing your conflicts, and adapting yourself to make the most of it.

If you’re a fan of the original, you’d be a fool not to go and check out this movie. Choose life, and choose to go and see this film.

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