Should we be totally surprised by this, or not at all surprised? Not that sequels to nostalgic movies isn’t new, but… TRAINSPOTTING (1996)? Who would have guessed? Who…? Did anyone really want this? Eh, oh well. It’s here, whether we wanted it or not.
So what did I think about the original? Honestly… I don’t remember it too well. Yeah, if you can believe that. I don’t even really remember liking it or not. I think I did. I remember it being weird, but I don’t remember anything else. I know it’s a landmark film for a lot of people and is beloved by most who’ve seen it, but… yeah, it didn’t leave the biggest impression on me. Keep in mind too, this isn’t like, “Oh, I saw it way back in 1996 and I just haven’t seen it again since,” no, first time I ever saw this movie was only a few years ago and I like to think I have a memory that retains better information now than when I was a kid. So I guess you could say that I was going into this pretty blind.
So, what did I think before seeing this movie? It looked like it’d be good. A comedy with a darker edge to it. Didn’t know what the story was really about. Thought it was about some guy, returns home to see his age-old friends, and rekindles friendships while trying to get another friend off drugs, and getting themselves into trouble in the process. Couldn’t say for sure what the story was about before going in, but it did look like it’d be a weirdly good time.
Well, let’s take a look at the on-screen talent. All reprising their twenty-year-old roles, Ewan McGregor (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST , JANE GOT A GUN , and THE IMPOSSIBLE ), Ewen Bremner (EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS , AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR , SNATCH , and the upcoming WONDER WOMAN ), Jonny Lee Miller (DARK SHADOWS , and TV shows ELEMENTARY and ELI STONE), and Robert Carlyle (28 WEEKS LATER , and TV shows ONCE UPON A TIME and SGU STARGATE UNIVERSE). Big fan of McGregor, from his most praised films to his least. Yes, I enjoyed him in the Star Wars prequels. He can do it all. Comedy, drama, and he’s great in everything that he does. Also a fan of Carlyle, as I used to be a fan of the TV show ONCE UPON A TIME. Never an episode with him in it that he doesn’t spot the scenery and make a main course out of it, which is hard to do considering that the CG backdrops are so elaborate themselves. I am familiar with Miller, only because of ELEMENTARY, which I barely watch. Good actor, but little to say about him. Not all that familiar with Bremner, despite seeing a few of his movies. Other talents include original-film actress Kelly Macdonald (BRAVE , HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 , and TV show BOARDWALK EMPIRE) and Anjela Nedyalkova, known for Bulgarian films and TV shows.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Danny Boyle, known for STEVE JOBS (2015), SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008), and TRAINSPOTTING (1997). Penning the screenplay is John Hodge, known for THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING (2007), THE BEACH (2000), and TRAINSPOTTING (1997). Hell of a reunion on all accounts, huh? Finally, the cinematographer is Anthony Dod Mantle, known for SNOWDEN (2016), IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015), and DREDD (2012).
Overall, I can’t say I’m very hyped for this movie, but it looks interesting enough to hold my attention. Plus, I do like most of the core talent, so that always helps.
This is my honest opinion of: T2 TRAINSPOTTING
Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) has returned to his hometown after twenty years of being away. His friends of so long ago are doing their own things now. Spud (Ewen Bremner) had a wife and kid before going back to being a heroine addict, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) is conning university teachers with sex scandals out of money with the help of his Bulgarian girlfriend, Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), the unknowing subject of their perversions, and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is still in prison after Mark inadvertently put him there, but eventually breaks out to resume his life, hoping to rope in his university-bound son into it as well. Mark’s return is not entirely met with open arms, as he’d stolen money that the four of them planned to split four ways, but he took off with all of it. Although Spud is quick to forgive Mark, who tries to get him clean off heroine, Simon is much slower, and even tries to rope Mark into a scam, but the two eventually kind of reconcile. Begbie, however, continues to hold a grudge. Mark and Simon run around town stealing money in the hopes of turning Simon’s pub into a brothel.
Hmm. Well, I sure don’t dislike it.
Alright, so the summary above is about all I can gather of the story itself. It almost feels like this movie was designed to not really have a story, but rather to follow the misadventures of these four people. Mark wants to make things right between him and his friends, Spud wants to be a writer and kick his drug addiction, Simon wants to turn his pub into a brothel, and Begbie… actually, I have no idea what his goals are. He just seems to be doing… crime stuff, and wants his son to join him and forget about going to college. Why he would want that for his son, I haven’t the slightest idea, but he does. But everyone else seems like they have clear goals in mind and progress through it while acting like idiots.
To be honest, the problem for me is that this is definitely a taste-movie. You’ll know immediately if this is your kind of movie or not, and… like I said, I don’t hate it, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. More or less, it just seems like the type of movie that’s supposed to be kind of chill and relaxed, not taking itself too seriously, and be funny and stupid while shit happens while learning or spewing life lessons. To be fair, that is exactly what this movie is. I think what prevents me from caring about the movie, however, is that… er… I don’t care about it. I honestly don’t find myself hoping that these characters achieve their goals, outside of Spud, who is so lovably lame and dorky. But Renton and Simon seem hellbent of doing their own shit and I’m not entirely sure what their motivations are, or why I should be invested with them.
It’s not even poorly written. In fact, this is a fantastic trifecta of writing, directing, and acting. The fast talking, the comedic timing, the sheer energy and clear passion for this project really shines through. This must have been an fun-as-fuck movie to make for everyone involved, so this movie has my respect, if not my die-hard affection, and if this now-franchise has a cult of fans, I can see why. But I can’t say that I’m drinking that kool-aide any time soon.
I know this is an embarrassingly short review, but it’s hard to talk about something that I could barely follow, nor remember the whole story that led up to the story presented here, so I found myself kind of lost when things were referenced. That may be a weird thing to say, as I’m pretty sure the movie was self-contained by the time the middle of the movie came along, outside of the flashback moments that crop up from time to time. I’m sure there’s something deep and profound in here somewhere, but I couldn’t see it. So, I suppose if you were a fan of the original, or just like weirdly told Scottish films, then I think you’ll do fine here. In retrospect, I should have revisited the original film for a clearer picture of what I would have been in for. Instead, I went in blind, and came out blind. Hope you all had a better experience than I did.
My honest rating for T2 TRAINSPOTTING: 3/5