T2 Trainspotting is a dreary sequel of Trainspotting, an underground comedy drama considered by many a cinematic milestone of the 90s, which painted Scotland’s Edinburgh drug scene in a memorable and stirring way.
The present installment, considerably less interesting than the first, revives the same protagonists 20 years after their separation. It was equally written by John Hodge, who has been working intermittently with director Danny Boyle since their first collaboration in 1994 with Shallow Grave.
“The film’s moods are often drawn from hopelessness and anarchy…”
The characters are introduced with showiness and bustle, and the charismatic Ewan McGregor, who gained his acting reputation in the 90s thanks to Boyle’s films, re-embodies Mark Renton, a former junkie who arrives in Edinburgh from Amsterdam to find the same sordid friends he cheated and stole money from.
To start, he makes amends with Spud (Ewen Bremner), a forlorn and longtime heroin addict, who was caught on the verge of committing suicide. Even upset for having been saved at the last minute, he ultimately accepts Mark’s help in order to recover from drugs and possibly return to his wife and child.
Mark also convinces Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) to pardon him after a tense encounter. The latter became addicted to cocaine and employs a sex scheme to rip-off money from the clients of the pub he owns. He does it with the collaboration of his seductive Bulgarian girlfriend, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).
The one who is totally unable to forgive and forget is the irascible Franco (Robert Carlyle is great), who escapes from prison and remains tough as nails regardless the age. He represents a dangerous threat for Mark and plays the villain in the story.
Boyle retrieves the same directorial features of its source material, resorting to occasional image stillness to better reflect the emotions of the characters while in panic or experiencing violent situations. The film’s moods are often drawn from hopelessness and anarchy, but a good part of the eccentricity, which worked wonders in its predecessor, feels whether fabricated or worn out.
In truth, the inelastic plot takes an aimless direction and makes the story drag for a long period of time before landing on a pretty decent climax in its last third. This is what saves the film from further tedium, in addition to intermittent funny lines thrown in by the four aging bastards.
In a nutshell: the watchable yet somewhat sloppy T2 Trainspotting only sporadically entertains and we don’t feel sorry for letting it go when the ending comes.
T2 Trainspotting (2016) – Written by John Hodge and directed by Danny Boyle. Starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Anjela Nedyalkova.
6 out of 10