Choose life. Choose a film. Choose a cinema to watch it in. Choose pre-film snacks that are loud enough to annoy your fellow cinema-goers when chewed. Choose to switch your phone on so that you can check Twitter and Facebook during the film in case your mate posts something about what they’re eating for tea. Choose to turn your screen brightness up to the “Football Pitch Illumines” setting so that everyone in the cinema knows you are there. Choose your preferred method of death when Mrs Film Fluff jumps over the seats to kill you while I try and restrain her!
If you haven’t guessed, the latest film I’ve seen is T2 Trainspotting, where a Renton from the future travels back in time to stop Begbie from glassing the guy in the pub in order to prevent an apocalyptic future… no, hang on… I’ve gone wrong somewhere… Oh yes, T2 Trainspotting is set 20 years after the original and is about the Connors and their Android bodyguard dealing with drug abuse and addiction issues…
…whatever it’s about, Trainspotting is a classic and Danny Boyle is a brave man to revisit it. He waited twenty years before making this sequel in order for the cast to be the right age, so it sounds like he is treating this with the care and attention it deserves…
It’s paid off!
Two decades on from where the original Trainspotting left off, we see Renton (Ewan McGregor) return to Edinburgh from his home in Amsterdam, seemingly to make amends for stealing drug money from his friends. He finds Spud (Ewen Bremner) still using heroin and Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) in the blackmail game, whilst Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is still locked up for murder despite his attempts for reprieve.
This film is a visual and audio treat from the off. The slick direction of photography, atmospheric lighting and fast-paced, stylised edits ooze creativity and invention. You can tell that this has been crafted by a genius of his field; confident and assured with his technique. A director with a recognised style of filmmaking that doesn’t distract from the story being told is a rare person indeed. You think Spielberg, Del Toro and Nolan when reciting the modern greats and Danny Boyle would not look out of place amongst that list. He can take any genre and make it his own. The soundtrack to this film has been expertly chosen as it is another classic. I didn’t think I’d be making any comparisons to La La Land in this review but the tunes are so catchy that, for the second time this year, the LP was ordered straight after viewing! The choice of songs complement the visuals superbly. McGregor and Miller play out the complicated friendship of their characters with ease. Despite their A-list status and worldwide recognition, they can still live and breathe these characters that shot them to stardom despite the length of time between films. The standout performance is from Carlyle as the violent psychopath, Begbie. As screen villains go, he is one of the scariest I have ever watched. He convinces as this unhinged, vulgar brute who would think nothing of shaking your hand one minute and bludgeoning you to death with it the next. It’s a blistering performance that deserves more recognition. The story is a good one and isn’t all about drug addiction and misuse that was the focus of its predecessor. Whilst the first was about misspent youth the second is all about middle-aged disappointment, and you have to commend all involved for not just playing it safe and delivering more of the same that broke the cinema mould back in the 90s.
This film is not a total success. Get used to the picture on the left as you’ll see a lot of this and other variations of it! Bremner’s portrayal of a man utterly ravaged by his addiction is sublime, but this is overshadowed by his gormless gurning throughout. I found this distracting and it’s a shame as he gives a genuinely empathetic performance. The film is very well-paced and has a unique, original and fresh feel to it despite it being a sequel to a much-loved classic, but this only lasts for about half an hour or so. As soon as Renton and Sick Boy start working together to get the latter’s business plans off the ground it starts to become more generic. It doesn’t lose any quality per se, as it is still a thoroughly entertaining thrill ride until the credits roll, but it started with so much promise to be as ground-breaking as its predecessor and it drifts from that path, which is disappointing. T2 has some eyebrow-raising scenes but there is a bite missing that was abundant in the first. That’s not a gap of twenty years talking, but a gap of four days as I only saw Trainspotting recently and it was as shocking to me now as it would have been if I’d seen it in 1996.
Wow, I’ve really complained up there, haven’t I? You’re probably not going to believe the score I am going to give it now! For me, this is a great film that was very entertaining and will be sitting proudly on my Blu-ray shelf on its release. It’s just a few easily remedied steps away from being perfect.