Sequel to 1996 hit plays it safe, falls short of its predecessor
A lot of care went into T2 Trainspotting. What holds it back is a strong sense of sentimentality, which prevents it from going as far down a dark path as it could have. The gritty reality of drug addiction takes a backseat to slapstick comedy, coupled with elements usually found in romantic comedies.
T2 Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, and starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner and Jonny Lee Miller, is the sequel to the 1996 hit Trainspotting. The original cast returns to Edinburgh to pick up where they left off—living fast, getting in trouble and going straight down to rock bottom.
Although a genuinely funny film, some audience members might not enjoy how some serious subject matters are addressed. The tone of the film is reminiscent of Trailer Park Boys in that it brings dark humor to serious issues. It could have been a dreary experience given the presence of drug use, relapse, depression and death. However, it ops for a good time, and viewers should expect a comedy.
T2 is a self-aware film, with many references to the original source material, sometimes so much so that it seems preoccupied with its predecessor’s success.
Under all the jokes, pop music and surprising amount of slapstick humor, T2 could be seen as a decent film about relapse into addiction. When things are going good for the characters, the film is a fun time. It’s a night out with your best friends, it’s choosing life and loving it. When things aren’t going so well, the film takes an emotional dip, as all hope seems to be lost. Whereas the first film was timeless because of how it handled the seriousness of heroin addiction—the sequel does not delve deep enough into the topic. T2 plays it safe.
The original film dealt with addiction in a way that hadn’t been done before, and so comparing T2 to Trainspotting is unfair. But T2 is so rooted in the last film that viewing the first is practically mandatory. Yet, this film does not match up to the 1996 classic.
However, despite the shortcomings that keep T2 from being a classic itself, there are some moments which are truly great, such as when Simon reminisces with Mark about the first time they got high—a beautifully heart-breaking moment when two young men effectively destroy their lives for good.
Once the film finally comes to an end, it is clear this is a story about redemption more than relapse— but while T2 accurately depicts relapse, it does not fully delve into the subject.