After 20 years Danny Boyle returns to Scotland and our favourite junkies to see how the last 20 years have gone for the lads. Renton has been in Amsterdam after stealing the drug money from the others, Begbie has been in prison for killing someone and it looks as though he is going to stay there, Spud is still fighting to recover from the heroin addiction that has been the bane of his life, and Sick Boy, aka Simon, he’s still up to no good.
20 years ago in a small cinema in Ireland we got to see Trainspotting, there was nothing like that before that graced our screens. Dark, comical, dramatic, and off the wall. It tackled the addiction culture which was hitting every city in the world. Rather than show only the dark side of the issue, it showed a culture and friendships which transcended the poison that was going through their systems. For the most unlikable bunch of characters you’ve ever seen in a film you cared about them. When I heard that Danny Boyle and the original cast were returning to do a sequel I did that thing with my head that dogs do when they are confused, I nearly snapped my neck.
Thankfully Danny Boyle has given us a follow-up story on par with the original, personally the original film didn’t hit me as well as some of my friends, but I loved the soundtrack, and Begbie was one of the most insane and scary characters that I’ve ever seen on-screen. Here though there is a natural progression to the characters development and nothing seems out of the ordinary for them. Well the one flaw I have, and I can’t come to terms with this, is that at least one, if not all, the main characters from the first film would have died by now. I grew up in an area with a lot of drug users and I can tell you that the majority of them are no longer drawing breath. I’m sure that Spud would have been long dead by now as even by the end of the first film it wasn’t looking great for him. Also how no one has killed Sick Boy is shocking.
Renton, Ewan McGregor, has fully turned his life around, off the junk and exercising, it seems as though his life is perfect. When he comes back home he has to make amens to the friends that he left behind. Spud, Ewen Bremmer, gives the performance of his life here with the constant knowledge that he has to turn his life around and it’s his journey that we see less of but I would wanted to see more. Begbie, Robert Carlyle, is just as menacing and insane as ever. Begbie is planning an escape from jail and when he learns that Renton is back on the scene it just spurs him on. The film concentrates more on the Renton and Sick boy (Simon) played by Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller. Their relationship is shown as a major part of their psychological make up and a vital part of the film.
You will benefit from seeing the first film again or for the first time for those living under a rock for the last twenty years. However, there are a lot of moments in the film that inform you of the parts of the first film that matter. Every element that made the first film something special returns, and having the original cast coming back adds to the special nature of the second film. There was no point in doing a follow-up to a film like Trainspotting unless you were going to at least match it. The blend of comedy, drama, and shock are still there and still make for one of the better films of the last twelve months. My only hope is that, even though I loved this film, I don’t want to see more from these characters. I doubt it would be third time lucky again, but for a second time at bat it couldn’t have gotten much better than this.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Irvine Welsh (novel), John Hodge (adaptation)
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller