T2: Trainspotting (18)

There has been a lot of criticism levelled, perhaps unfairly, at Trainspotting 2. Some critics hailed it as pointless, too-belated and simply “not as good as the first”. This is perhaps a tad unfair considering its ground-breaking, micro-budget, hyperactive predecessor frequently ranks highly within the Top Twenty Best British films EVER made lists, spawned countless imitations and launched virtually everybody involved into the A-List, even poor Kevin “Tommy” McKidd, and look what happened to him in the film!
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With its era-defining soundtrack and poster, stunningly inventive cinematography, anarchic spirit, brilliantly bleak (often stomach-churning) humour, flawless acting, breathless pace and the perfectly balanced tone of the film, ‘Trainspotting’ was going to be one tough biscuit to follow.

It is true, to an extent, that T2 does not quite live up to its predecessor’s legacy, but then it was never going to. Put this aside and view it almost ad a standard gelated sequel and there is much to enjoy. I watched it twice in the cinema upon its its release in February and recently watched it again on dvd and can confirm the film still happily stands up to repeat viewings.

Like its protagonists, T2 is slower, more mature, more sedate than its punky, grimy, juvenile predecessor, but it also does have some very neat technical flourishes, some cracking dialogue (of course) and some brilliantly suspenseful scenes (step forward, the nightclub toilet scene).

The plot – as per I’m saying nothing – treads very familiar ground with the plot following Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel ‘Porno’ faithfully adhered to, but this time in 2017 the hapless quartet – or should that be trio? – find themselves lost in a modern world of robot-hoovers, European immigrants working at Edinburgh Airport and cocking around with SnapChat filters.

T2’s 18 certificate seems almost tame by today’s standards and the visceral violence of the first film is thankfully absent. Has it been toned down, or are we just less sensitive to it twenty years on? Also, the sex and drug scenes also seem less shocking too. Thankfully, nobody gets heroin injected into their penis vein this time around either.

The music is of course absolutely excellent, with modern dance, punk and pop happily sitting side by side with each other on the blisteringly eclectic soundtrack which features (of course) Iggy Pop, Bob McGlynn, Queen, RUN D.M.C and The Fat White Family.

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Without edging too far into nudge-nudge, wink-wink territory, there are a few familiar nods towards the predecessor peppered throughout the film too (toilet, car bonnet, pub fight), some out-and-out flashbacks as well as explanatory backstory which helps to flesh out the hitherto little-known characters relationships. This manage to build up the back-story without ever being intrusive enough to get in the way of the plot.

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By the time the credits roll, the film has been funny, sad, exciting, tense and wholly unexpected as the plots takes some dramatically different directions and one major character becomes the unexpected focus of the film in its latter half.

As Sick Boy says during one poignant scene, “Nostalgia? You’re a tourist of your own youth.” He’s right, he’s almost saying it to the audience, not to Renton and Spud, and it’s why almost 90% of the audience went to watch this superb and worthy sequel in the first place.

Oh, and yes, there is a brand new “Choose Life” speech and, yes, its scathing, vitriolic dissection of modern life absolutely knocks it out of the park. Again.

Thanks for reading, hope to se you again soon!

Project Square Eyes (Sunday 5th November 2017)

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