Confession time. I only quite liked the original Trainspotting. It was okay. The acting was a little meh and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the book. But it was good. I enjoyed it. I loved parts of it. I didn’t love it as a whole. But it was good. It was fine.
What I mostly loved about it was it was a Scottish movie aimed at me. It was a Scottish movie that had heart, and was challenging, and didn’t make me squirm slightly at the sheer Scottishness of it all. That doesn’t always happen with Scottish movies.
So I approached T2 with slight trepidation and excitement and given that it’s been released here in the US some months after it did the rounds in the UK, I’ve been reasonably careful to avoid details on The Facebook.
Twenty years on from the first outing, Renton is in Amsterdam, falling off a treadmill, and coming back to Scotland, Spud is still on the skag and contemplating suicide, Sick Boy is blackmailing sexual deviants, Begbie is in Saughton at Her Majesty’s pleasure (the jail). Once home, Rents discovers that not all his friends are all that happy to see him. Seemingly the theft of 16,000 pounds lasts long in the memory. Soon though, he gets back in Sick Boy’s good books and they invest their efforts in opening a “sauna” in Edinburgh. Meanwhile Franco has escaped from jail and it’s just a matter of time before he catches up with them all.
It’s an okay story. I’d have liked it to be stronger, but it’s okay. I’d have loved it to have more of a point. The sauna thing, for example, never really feels all that important.
And then there’s Diane, played by Kelly Macdonald. She was a bit player in the first movie but they bring her back here for one scene where she’s grown up to be a lawyer. Why? She’s a metaphor for growing up and old and RealLife™, I guess, but her involvement really serves little purpose other than make us say, hey, there’s Kelly Macdonald.
Director Danny Boyle infuses enough of his talent to make it visually interesting to watch and coaxes as much as humanly possible from the story, but before the credits roll, it’s not entirely clear what we achieve here. It’s almost the cinematic equivalent of meeting a school friend for the first time in a decade or two and realizing, after fifteen minutes of awkward chit-chat, you have nothing in common with this person anymore, you go your separate ways, and you never speak of this again.
The best thing about this movie, though, is that it’s Spud’s movie. At its heart, it’s all about him and his journey is the spine of every other aspect of the story. The worst thing, maybe, is Sick Boy’s revelation of wanting to get his revenge on Renton, done in such pure Machiavellian manner I half expected him to start twirling the ends of his non-existent mustache.
But it was good. I enjoyed it. And in that regard, it feels like the best sequel it could be.