Friday, April 21, 2017

Movie Review #597: "T2 Trainspotting" (2017)

Director: Danny Boyle
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
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Upon having a health scare, Mark Renton returns to Edinburgh 20 years after stealing £16,000 from his friends.

"T2 Trainspotting" is directed by Danny Boyle and is a sequel to the 1996 film "Trainspotting." It is once again written by John Hodge, based on the Irvine Welsh books "Trainspotting" and its sequel "Porno." Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, and Robert Carlyle all return to reprise their roles as Renton, Simon (aka Sick Boy), Spud, and Begbie. New to the cast is Anjela Nedyalkova, who plays Veronika, a prostitute and Simon's sort of girlfriend and business partner.

It has been 20 years since Renton ran off with the £16,000 he stole from his friends. Some recent occurrences in his life have prompted him to return to Edinburgh for the first time since walking across the bridge that fateful day, severing ties with his home and his best mates. Upon returning home, he reconnects with Spud first, who is still struggling with his smack addiction and is in a bad place in life after losing everything. Next, he meets up with Simon, who is still extremely bitter about losing the £4,000 share Renton stole from him lo those decades ago. Renton's biggest worry is the ultra-violent, constantly enraged Begbie, who has recently escaped from prison and has been waiting 20 years to exact his ultimate revenge on Renton. 

The original "Trainspotting" wasn't a huge hit in the United States when it first came out. Over the years, however, it has become somewhat of a cult classic. It served to launch the career of director Danny Boyle, who went on to direct the Oscar winning "Slumdog Millionaire," the Oscar nominated "127 Hours," and the brilliant but forgotten "Steve Jobs." Returning to his roots with this sequel shows Boyle hasn't lost a beat when it comes to his signature striking visuals and engaging storytelling. Some may ask why this sequel was made in the first place, but Irvine Welsh obviously thought there was more to explore with these characters since he wrote a sequel to his original novel, and it would seem Boyle and Hodge felt the same way; thus, we have "T2 Trainspotting." The film has its fair share of fan service and callbacks, and some actual clips from the original make their way into parts of this continuation. Renton even gives a new version of his "Choose Life" monologue, which along with it carries a critique of our modern social media-driven world and the madness it causes. We personally don't mind that this follow-up has mirrored elements of the first film worked into it, though we can understand why many critics and viewers may be unhappy with how much it feels like a rehash. Along with these remembrances is a strong narrative surrounding Begbie's desire for revenge as he has been waiting to get his hands on Renton for 20 years, even though he wound up in jail.

To us, the movie feels like a much needed coda in a story we loved despite its toxicity. It is still very much a character-driven story about friends reconnecting. They must work on getting over the past and wrongs they may have done while embracing the future, even if there's only a sliver of a future left for them. When the guys find themselves together, they do nothing but talk about these days that have become nostalgic to them. Their history is one that may be better off forgotten, but they seem to revel and relish in it, searching for the highs and lows they shared as young, dumb wankers who lived a fast, hard life. Gentrification has come to Edinburgh since we last saw these characters, and it seems everything has changed, except for them and their little neighborhood. Everyone is stuck, except for Renton, who by coming home, may very well fall back into his old habits.

Not many long oft sequels do well in terms of revisiting the past, but these characters and their continuing (mis)adventures remain enthralling, especially since the past never really left them. "T2 Trainspotting" may rely a little too heavily on nostalgia, but we still really enjoyed seeing these crazy but beloved characters one more time, especially when aided by director Danny Boyle's impeccable frenetic and ever-changing visuals and acute knack for storytelling.


My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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