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Review: T2: Trainspotting

T2: Trainspotting
03.21.2017
9 10
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PLOT: Twenty years after stealing the proceeds of a drug deal, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to his native Edinburgh to make amends with Spud (Ewan Bremmer) and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), only to get caught up in the latter’s scheme. Meanwhile, the psychotic Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has escaped prison and wants to make Renton pay.

REVIEW: Like any other TRAINSPOTTING fan, I was wary of a sequel. Legit classics on its level don’t really need them. Would anyone want a sequel to PULP FICTION, BOOGIE NIGHTS or GOODFELLAS? Usually when you do get them, they’re “why bother?” follow-ups like SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER’s Sly-directed sequel STAYING ALIVE or GREASE 2. Sometimes it’s best to just leave well enough alone, although writer Irvine Welsh, upon whose novel the original was based, pulled off a literary sequel of his own, “Porno”, that was well-received and kicked-up sequel talk fifteen years ago. Even still, no one ever thought a film sequel would ever get made, with Ewan McGregor and director Danny Boyle having famously feuded during pre-production on THE BEACH.

Luckily, time heals all wounds, but even still, how good could a sequel to TRAINSPOTTING actually be? Pretty damn good is the answer, with this being a terrific follow-up that falls just short of being on par with the original, which benefited from being a movie that tapped right into the zeitgeist of the moment, something tough to recapture. Taking place twenty years after the first, the Scottish foursome are older but distinctly not wiser. While Renton plays at being somewhat more mature, at first anyway, he’s as iconoclastic as ever, while Sick Boy is still getting involved in penny ante schemes, now involving pornographic blackmail with the help of his much-younger Bulgarian girlfriend, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).

At least they’re free of the heroin addiction that plagued them in the first film, although Sick Boy has replaced H with cocaine. Poor Spud is a different story, with him as bad an addict as ever, despite repeated attempts to get clean and reconnect with his former flame Gail (Shirley Henderson) and son. Meanwhile, Begbie’s finally gone and killed someone, landing himself in prison, although he’s able to escape within the first ten minutes or so – allowing the foursome to eventually have a violent reunion.

The four guys are as good as ever, with McGregor effortlessly reprising Renton, who still sees himself as being above his mates, even though he’s as big a mess as any of them – but maybe a little more selfish which allows him to preserve himself a bit more. The revelation here is Jonny Lee Miller, who’s been mostly active in theater and on TV in recent years, playing Sherlock on the CBS procedural “Elementary”. I’d forgotten just how good of an actor he is, with Sick Boy pretty much walking away with the movie. This is partially due to the elevated pathos of the character, who’s still a thug but also seems to have a genuine need for Renton’s companionship, making their reunion surprisingly bittersweet.

As always, Bremmer and Carlyle are spot on, with them representing the two stuck in the same mindset as they were twenty years ago, although Spud is far more self-aware and wants to end it all, with the delusion that all will be better off if he’s gone. The irony is that he’s the only thing that keeps Renton and Sick Boy redeemable, as they have genuine affection for him. Meanwhile, Carlyle is as dangerously unpredictable as ever as the now middle-aged Begbie, although scenes with his son, who dreams of a straight-laced lifestyle, suggest more substance than the mere insanity he showed last time.

T2: TRAINSPOTTING fares best when Boyle (and co-writer John Hodge) focus on the relationship between the guys rather than calling back to the first, with Renton’s new “choose life” monologue being a bit too on the nose. Luckily, Boyle’s craft is as dazzling as ever, with this having a different, crisply digital look as opposed to the sordid graininess of the original, a nice way of distinguishing between the two with Anthony Dod Mantle doing the lensing this time out. And what’s a TRAINSPOTTING movie without an incredible soundtrack, with old hits by Blondie and Queen mixing with new tracks, like the impressively used “Silk” by Wolf Alice, and remixes of the first film’s signature songs, with Born Slippy being worked into the score here and there.

trainspotting 2 ewan bremner, ewan mcgregor jonny lee miller robert carlyle

With only a few caveats (more with Kelly Macdonald’s Diane would have been welcome), T2: TRAINSPOTTING is a spot-on sequel, and one that feels like an organic, appropriate extension of the first film’s story. If they can make another one this good, more from Renton, and his pals would be most welcome.

Source: JoBlo.com

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