Should a sequel to Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting been made? Probably not. As, the first film ended perfectly the way it was. But now, more than twenty years later, Boyle, has gotten the whole cast back together. In some ways, it is a reunion; a meetup of beloved characters that you want to catch up with and see how they have changed since the last time you saw them. But in other ways it relies too much on the memories of its predecessor to stand independently on its own.
Heroin is not the focus of T2: Trainspotting. Instead the themes of moving on and time are much more prominent. This thematic change is very much reflective of the older age of characters Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and how they all do not feel as indestructible as they used to feel twenty years ago. And if Trainspotting was convincing enough to steer people away from trying heroin, T2: Trainspotting does an even better job, showing the effects of heroin usage with age. Some are unable to kick the habit or even begin to abuse other drugs.
What ends up making T2 a good movie in the end, is the dialogue. Irvine Welsh and John Hodge succeeded in recapturing the black-comedy found in the original film. Renton’s revised “Choose Life” speech is just as well written and meaningful with updated and more current issues. Seeing the four characters interact with each other sounds natural as they all speak how they spoke in the past. Where Welsh and Hodge’s writing falters however, is the usage of references to the first film. Sometimes, the references are used creatively, but many times it seems like just a way to remind viewers of memorable scenes from Trainspotting.
In Trainspotting, Scotland looked disgusting. In the sequel, Boyle has made Caledonia much more attractive to the eyes. The transition from film to digital may have also helped with this new look but nonetheless, it gives T2 a much more different feel overall. What also helps to the disconnect of both movies is the inclusion of heavily stylized subtitles of dialogue. These visuals effects are inserted into the movie at random and do not really fit well, while also not really serving a purpose.
T2: Trainspotting is not a sequel in the same vein that Bad Santa 2 was a sequel. Mostly everyone connected to Trainspotting on and off the screen were involved with this followup. There was a lot of care put into this movie and with multiple viewings I feel, this movie will get better and better. The thematic shift between the two films creates a good dynamic that really warrants back-to-back viewing. As time has shown, Trainspotting is a movie that is deeply ingrained with the 1990s. And I have a feeling time will show that T2: Trainspotting will become a movie deeply ingrained with the 2010s.