Wednesday, 3 May 2017

T2 Trainspotting (2017) - Film Review


Review:

*Originally written January 27th, 2017*

I was really excited by the idea of a Trainspotting sequel, I'm a huge fan of the first and have come to really love the characters from rewatching the original many times. That said, this had a lot going against it. For one, the awful title, T2 Trainspotting. What the hell even is that? What was wrong with simply 'Trainspotting 2'? The next problem is the 20 year gap. The first trainspotting is a film of its time, a time capsule of the '90s Britpop era. So is Trainspotting even relevant anymore? In a way no.

Time's have changed and Danny Boyle has matured as a filmmaker delivering a far more meditative drama rather than the style fused energy of the first. While T2 is a change of pace from its predecessor, I still loved it nearly as much. If the first was a film about making the choices while you're young to change your future, T2 is about realizing you've hit your middle-ages and wasted your whole life and have nothing to show for it.

While it takes place 20 years after the first and everyone is now in their 40's, every character was still just great to see. Everyone slipped back into their roles effortlessly. Ewan McGregor was still great as Renton, even delivering another great "Choose Life" monologue, Johnny Lee Miller was the same Sickboy we know and love, Ewan Bremner is still the heart and moral compass of the group, providing some of the most heartbreaking scenes. Then we have Robert Carlyle as Begbie, who is still as dangerous and unhinged as ever.

Spud, Renton and Sick Boy
Being 30 minutes longer this time was very needed. The first act works as a catch-up with the characters and seeing where they all are. While the rest feels like a nostalgic trip down memory lane while paving way for the future. Some people will not be a huge fan of the amount of callbacks to the original film (There is a lot), but it all worked for me. Thanks to Boyle's direction, they managed to use a lot of creative ways to incorporate footage from the first mixed in with T2. They even answer a few lingering questions from the first and manage to add some stuff from the books too, which I appreciated.

What a lot of people remember the first for is its soundtrack. T2s' soundtrack isn't as strong as the first, but there is a ton of great tracks. The Wolf Alice song 'Silk' is used beautifully for the end, there's some Queen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Clash. What really surprised me though was a gorgeous slow remix of 'Born Slippy' from T1, which was used effectively in the more reflective and emotional moments.

One of the things that disappointed me a little was just how much story there was. The first Trainspotting was low on plot and was just more of a hangout film with a lot of kinetic style, which I loved, but T2 feels like much more of a drama. There's a lot going on with each character. Renton comes back to Scotland after 20 years and goes into business with Sickboy, Spud is borderline suicidal and trying to kick his addiction and Begbie has broken out of prison and tries to get revenge of Renton for the events of the first.

Begbie goes bananas
The Renton and Begbie reunion was the stuff that excited me the most going into it, and that doesn't really happen till the last act, but when it does, it is fantastic. The scene where they see eachother for the first time again is so wonderfully done. As was all the character moments. That's one of the reasons T2 really worked for me, every emotional beat hit for me, these are characters I've enjoyed for years now and everything felt earned and honest. This doesn't feel like a cash-in. You can tell Danny Boyle really cares about these characters and wanted to tell more of this story.

Returning as the director. Danny Boyle directs the holy fucking shit out of T2. Not a single frame is spared where he can try and get some style in. It's beautifully shot, using an absurd variety of camera shots. It's not as fast paced and aggresive as the first, but damn, Boyle still has it. From what I've seen, Trance is the only blip on his filmography for me.

T2 Trainspotting is everything I possibly could have hoped for a sequel to a 20 year old film. Fan-pleasing, emotional, nostalgic and beautifully shot. Could go up to a 10 on rewatches. I need more films like this.

9/10 Dans

T2 Trainspotting is out June 5th on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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