Review: "Why Trainspotting T2 is dark British comedy at its finest."

T2 Trainspotting is the kind of film you want to see with somebody who knows you well; somebody who will not judge you for crying out of fear or laughter or a mixture of both.

This warning may seem exaggerated, but after witnessing a man violently spews into the plastic bag wrapped around his head, as though he is an astronaut drowning in a sea of vomit, you’ll consider it valid. Understated, even.

The film is the sequel to the 1996 black comedy, Trainspotting, based off the 1993 novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. The original, also directed by Danny Boyle, became a cult classic among fans who cherished its unflinchingly brutal take on drug culture in Edinborough, Scotland.

Trainspotting T2 maintains this pace to deliver the adrenaline rush of 50 Shades Darker, but for slightly different reasons – though, that’s not to say the film lacks its erotic moments. If the sight of a heaving middle-aged man being anally penetrated by a slim woman is something that has you crossing your legs, you will find the film stimulating on every level.

(Source: Sony Pictures Films)

The film kicks off some 20 years after the original with a look-in at how the gang of anti-heroes has fared in the artificial light of modern life.


Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) has traded drug highs for the endorphines of exercise; Simon or 'Sick Boy' (Jonny Lee Miller) has adapted his scheming abilities to the sex trade; Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is serving his sentence as only a violent lunatic can; and Spud (Ewan Bremner), well... Spud is still Spud.

The original cast sprints into the sequel with the enigmatic power of their former characters. McGregor's hulking body gives veracity to his character's new lust for lifts and cardio, as does his aged yet youthful insights. McGregor may be truthful to Renton, but it is the spine-chilling death lust of Carlyle's Begbie that steals the show.

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The main power of Trainspotting T2 is not drawn from its characters but from its fast-paced, thriller dialogue and visually-stimulating direction.

If you're able to keep your eyes on the screen at all times, and not briefly flirting with the cinema floor, then you've done remarkably better than two-thirds of my cinema's guests.

The film has already been criticised for paying too deep a homage to its predecessor. Reviewers have pointed out how the four original characters have been taken into the future and yet seem unrealistically bound to the past.

Robert Carlyle as Begbie in T2. (Source: Sony Pictures Films).

There are no great leaps in characterisation or actions, other than Begbie's brief flirt with empathetic fatherhood and Spud's newfound authorship. Sick Boy remains focused on money and Renton on being the quiet alpha.

The criticisms ring partly true, but surely some leniency could be offered to the future lives of former (and current) addicts. How much evolution is really possible?

Trainspotting T2 is a film that rewards long-term fans by offering them layers that a newcomer would miss entirely.

See this with someone you know well. Trust me. (Source: Sony Pictures Films).

It may dip its toes into the waters of fan service, but not in a way that prevents it from being enjoyed in isolation from its prequel.

It may not need its audience to have seen the first film but with a storyline this good, it would be a shame to handicap one's experience.

Trainspotting opens in cinemas on the 23rd of February, 2017.

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