Reviewed: T2 Trainspotting (2017, Danny Boyle)

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Creating a sequel to a classic piece of film art must always be seen as a daunting task. To best succeed, the sequel should bring back the full original roster of characters, craft a storyline that compliments an organic continuation of the original and utilise the same aesthetic direction that brought about the iconic status of the first. “T2 Trainspotting” does all of this and more, in what is easily one of the best follow-up pictures to have been produced. Reuniting the first films four leads (and director Danny Boyle) 20 years after the dramatic double cross that ended the acclaimed ‘Trainspotting’; ‘T2 Trainspotting’ highlights the continued exploits of its junkie characters and their misdemeanours as they meander through their troubled lives.

Narratively ‘T2 Trainspotting’ switches its focus from an individual character study with refined balance into one that incorporates the entirety of its cast – allowing for a true feeling of depth and growth to resonate from within its contemporary plot. Where the first film was heavily influenced by the notion of consequence, the sequel seems to function around the idea of choice. Primarily how choice can affect both the individual and those in which they interact with. Although it will struggle to reach the iconic status of the original, the willingness of Boyle’s narrative alterations allow for a film that feels organically connected yet never a complete rehash of whats come before. In truth the original ‘Trainspotting’ was a product of its time, an anthem for the 90s with a gritty depiction of the drug culture that surrounded the poorer areas of community. The sequel, with its advanced technology and Boyle’s directing quirks, feels very much like the contemporary to modern living.

Ewan McGregor – due to his Hollywood image – carries the narrative once more as Renton. However where the first film focused on his charters development and interaction with his friends, the sequel allows for a larger range on the characters  that it follows. Each of the four main characters (Renton, Spud, Sick-Boy and Begbie) have been giving almost an equal measure of time to develop and progress within the plot, formulating in a feeling of ensemble, camaraderie and more importantly friendship to manifest. Due to the over-the-top nature of his character, Robert Carlyle once again steels the limelight with his portrayal of the Psychopath Begbie and his quest to seek out Renton for some old fashioned revenge. With its focus on realism, the very nature of the actors fame does at time detract from the final product – due in large to a feeling of overly Hollywood placed within a council estate. Although this is but a small issue in a production that is for the majority performed brilliantly, it still detracts from its narrative.

With Boyle’s flashy styling, ‘Trainspotting 2’ is a beautifully shot blend of aesthetically pleasing imagery and gritty realism. Although it does not carry the gross-out moments that made the first film so difficult to watch, the very nature of its characters progression allows for a production that is entirely engrossing throughout. Where the first film had a grimy quality, the sequel holds a neon glaze as if shot through a coloured filter. This creates a new dynamic to how the locations ares used, formulating in a modern example of filmmaking.

Some of the plot-lines in this film are never fully explored, with one large section of the narrative never given a conclusion – creating a sense of its inclusion as only a call back to the original. With issues like this, ‘T2 Trainspotting’ seemingly shoehorns moments to produce comedic value without any real relevance on the overall plot. This causes a detriment to the refined narrative that the film follows.

“T2 Trainspotting” is a joy to watch, with finding the characters 20 years later creating a real sense of progression within the gap. This allows for a true continuation of something special. Where the first film was a product of its time, the sequel, with its different era setting and more assured filmmaking, is allowed to feel larger. Where the returning cast and crew – including a cameo from Kelly Macdonald – allows for an authentic feeling, the progression of the actors respective careers leads to a disjoined relationship to the exploits of the characters. “T2 Trainspotting” is darkly comedic, with some laugh out loud moments littered throughout. Although it will never reach the cultural impact that made the first film so iconic, it is most definitely a worthy sequel to Boyle’s original – which in itself is high praise.

Plot – 4

Acting – 4

Direction – 5

Effects – 4

Retrospect – 3

Overall – 4

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