T2 Trainspotting – Dir: Danny Boyle

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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle

T2 Trainspotting, the sequel to the ground-breaking 1996 film, got a preview screening last night at Auckland’s Broadway Newmarket Cinema. Along with a bevy of local “celebrities”, director Danny Boyle was on hand to say a few words before the film rolled.

It’s not every day that an Oscar-winning director shows up in Auckland to appear before a screening of his film…although as Boyle himself pointed out, Quentin Tarantino was here not long ago.  Anyway, the director made a brief appearance, being questioned gently by newsman Simon Dallow, discussing some of the difficulties in creating this sequel.

Of course the biggest problem is the huge legacy that Trainspotting has left on cinematic history. When it was released in 1996 it felt incredibly fresh, exhilarating and dangerous. It was something we hadn’t seen before.

Following it up was always going to be a problem, simple because the stakes were so high.

Not surprisingly, T2 doesn’t come close to making the same impact that it predecessor did. How could it?

It is, however, a good, solid film, especially if you already have an affinity for the main characters.

They are all back.

Mark “Rent Boy” Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh from Amsterdam, 20 years after ripping off his friends, apparently to make amends, although his motivation for returning is somewhat unclear.

Meanwhile, Donald “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) is right where we left him…still an addict, still a mess.

Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) isn’t much better. He’s running a broken down bar, running various scams on the side.

And Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is right where he belongs…in prison…although not for long.

The ensuing story manages to be both simple and convoluted at the same time. Basically Sick Boy and Franco are out for revenge, while Spud attempts to clean himself up and Rent Boy is looking for some kind of reconciliation with his mates.

Along the way there is the expected violence, sex, drug taking, but 20 years later it seems much less shocking.

Kelly McDonald’s Diane character makes a brief appearance for nostalgia’s sake, but does nothing for the film itself.

Most interesting is Sick Boy’s Bulgarian “partner” Veronika, played by Anjela Nedyalkova. She injects some much-needed freshness into the mix, adding sex appeal and heart, especially when she assists Spud in his literary aspirations.

So, 20 years later, the four main characters are all trying to adapt to adult life, with varying degrees of success.

The original film was a statement of the-then current state of the political climate of the UK, with the characters choosing drugs over “normal” life.

This film seems to have little to say, other than that growing up is hard, but the alternative is worse. It’s a fine exercise is nostalgia, and there are plenty of entertaining moments, especially when the new film blatantly refers back to the original, but it definitely lacks the edgy, exhilarating rush of its predecessor.

Marty Duda