TWENTY years after the success of Transporting, or T1 as we should perhaps now call it (we probably shouldn’t), Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick-Boy (Tommy Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) all return under the direction of Danny Boyle.
As you might expect, with a twenty year wait for the sequel, T2 has a fair amount of exposition to get through before it really gets going. The gang haven’t seen each other in that period of time but ultimately not a lot has changed. Renton, although drug free and seemingly happily living in Amsterdam following his treturous turn at the end of Trainspotting, is still disillusioned with reality, Spud is still a junkie, Begbie is in prison and Sick-Boy is still a bit of a chancer with grand dreams of becoming rich by any means possible.
People don’t change.
People can’t change.
Or can they?
Ultimately, T2 is a nostalgic trip back the original both for us, the audience, and the characters we came to love (and hate) in Trainspotting. It’s the same fuck-ups making poor life decisions but in an age that they’re totally lost in. In fact, they’re more lost now than they’ve ever been. Their future has slipped away and there’s nothing left for them. Renton’s ‘choose life’ speech part 2 is testament to that. What’s the point in anything if we’re all fucked anyway?
The world makes even less sense now than it did in the nineties.
Society is distracted by Facebook and Instagram and endless streams of nonsense but the guys are totally out of time, stuck twenty years in the past unable to come to terms with the fact that they’ve done nothing with their lives.
It makes for an amusing story, as the gang reunite and predictably spiral out of control. The story isn’t fantastic and it’s often shoved to one side to accommodate flashbacks and nostalgic call-backs to the original but when this great cast are all on screen together, it’s so good to watch it hardly matters that the script is average.
This film is tonally a lot lighter than its predecessor and as a result it’s not as hard hitting. It doesn’t have that same impact. You don’t really feel like you’ve been through an ordeal with the characters because you haven’t really. There’s no horrible earth shattering moments. The sense of despair that looms over the original is missing here. There’s more hope and optimism and it’s played out more comically which often makes it feel, at times, like a parody of itself.
Having said that, it doesn’t make the film less enjoyable, it’s a very funny film. Awkward reunions and old grudges lend themselves to some great and hilarious dialogue from McGregor et al. The cast are all great and Danny Boyle’s direction is predictably on point.
GREAT. T2 is a successful return but it is sometimes too self-referential.