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T2 Trainspotting

April 6, 2017

T2 Trainspotting (***) R

Most sequels fall under the category of those for which no one was asking. Rarely is it the case that the sequel appears that could fall under the category of those for which no one was expecting. 

Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting was, in my humble opinion, one of the best films of the 90s, but not necessarily one that lent itself easy to a continuation. After all it was a film that depicted the ins, outs and what have yous of a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh as they struggled to stay afloat, literally and figuratively. At the conclusion of that film you just expected the characters that made it through the picture, and somehow managed to get themselves clean, would eventually succumb to the temptations of addiction and crumble under its enormous weight at some point on their life’s path. It seemed like a foregone conclusion, so what obsessive fan of that earlier film could say that they were honestly expecting to see another installment some two decades on.

And yet director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge have reconvened to give fans another chapter in the lives of these characters. It works wonderfully in tandem with the original film.

Ewan McGregor & Ewan Bremner in T2

Be forewarned, however, that if you haven’t seen the first installment you’ll most likely be lost at times when attempting to follow the film’s plot. T2 is not something that is left best to its own devices as it coeexists in the same universe as the first film. T2 Trainspotting manages to grab the audience right from the opening shot in the clever way that it draws the viewer back to the first film. The original film opened with Ewan McGregor’s character, Mark, running down a street with reckless abandon. This film cleverly opens with Mark running once again but then the camera pulls back to reveal that he’s running on a treadmill instead of a busy street. This is, of course, a subtle reference to the passage of time and an ode to middle age. It’s also a theme that runs throughout the pic.

At the end of the first film, Mark and his pal, Spud (Ewan Bremner), made off with vicious thug Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) stolen money and set in motion an event that would send Begbie to prison. Begbie has spent the better part of the ensuing years in prison and has hungered for revenge. He gets his chance when he feigns an injury and makes a successful escape attempt from prison. Before the climax of the film which cleverly ties everything back to the original film, we get glimpses into the unfulfilled lives of the other characters from the first film as they battle addictions, suffer the indignity of divorce and death of loved ones, and approach middle age with a general sense of bewilderment and trepidation.

From a technical standpoint, director Boyle pulls out his usual bag of cinematic tricks in service to the film’s story and they’re as good as one would expect. It’s only one of the many things to embrace in a film that offers plenty of delights for fans of both the original Trainspotting and great filmmaking in general.

T2 Trainspotting opens Thursday, April 6, at the Regal Park Terrace in Charlotte.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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