Add not seeing the original Trainspotting to my list of cinematic blasphemies. The thing about popular films are that fans have expectations when it comes to any sequels so without having seen the first film, maybe I won’t have any preconceived notions but of course seeing the first film would have been the most ideal.
Synopsis: Mark Renton finally returns to Edinburgh after a long exile in Amsterdam, and he soon reunites with his old pals Sick Boy and Spud. As he tries to help Spud kick his heroin addiction and gets caught up in a scheme to open a brothel with Sick Boy, Renton is targeted by the sociopathic Begbie, who wants revenge for his past misdeeds. (Rovi)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, and Jonny Lee Miller.
Writer: John Hodge
Director: Danny Boyle
Running Time: 117mins
A lot has happened since the last Trainspotting film 21 years ago (apparently) so the film catches up with each character. There was a lot of animosity between some of them after the events of the previous film with Renton (McGregor) leaving with the rest of the gang’s money. Since then, Renton has been living in Amsterdam, Spud (Bremner) has been struggling with his heroin addiction and lost his job and family, Sick Boy (Miller) is a cocaine addict who runs his aunt’s pub and blackmails people on the side with his girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is prison and was denied parole because of his violent temper.
A sudden change in Renton’s life forced him to return home to Edinburgh in order to reconnect with his friends because it was all he had left after his wife wanted a divorce. Is was then that we got an idea of the feelings they had for each other. Renton still cared for his friends and that started by interrupting Spud’s suicide attempt. Spud was feeling worthless after losing his job and his family and was giving up so Renton gave him a second chance at life by helping him find an outlet for his addiction which was writing.
Sick Boy was still angry at Renton for having left with the money so when Renton reappeared, he decided to be friends again and then hurt Renton like he had hurt him. He was going to bring him in to help him build a brothel. The only problem was that they had no money but that was easier said than done. To try and rectify this, they relied on their criminal skills which could only go so far. Spud, who had no job, also helped.
Begbie wanted to get out of prison so he hatched a plan to escape and he did. Once he got out, he didn’t seem to realise that things have changed. He simply went back to his criminal lifestyle that was no longer compatible with his family and his son, Frank Jr (Scot Greenan), who chose a career path he didn’t support. When he learned of Renton’s return, he so desperately wanted revenge. Begbie and Sick Boy started working together to get their revenge with Sick Boy’s change of heart, leading to Begbie being sent back to prison.
The best part of the film has to be the great performances by the four leads. McGregor, Bremner, Miller, and Carlyle had great chemistry together despite limited screen time all together. Their respective journeys were very compelling to watch as the film was mostly about the relationships between these characters and their redemption. The film’s various visual effects, beit camera work or audio or visual effects, made things interesting and gave the film a real sense of style and character and elevated the storytelling (similar to the first film from what I’ve read).
Overall, this was a good, compelling character-driven drama with great performances by all four leads and a great sense of style. With its many flashbacks and references to the previous film (a good idea after 21 years), seeing the first film is unnecessary. Fans of the first film may feel like they’re getting more of the same which may or may not be a bad thing.
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