Nostalgia can be a powerful tool in movies, and has been used on numerous occasions in recent years. Oftentimes, this can feel manipulative, as studios attempt to capitalise on an audience’s longing for the “good old days”, and T2 Trainspotting is, to an extent, guilty of this too.
However, this idea of nostalgia is incorporated heavily into the stellar writing, making it stand out amongst the other sequel shlock we see most of the time. Despite this, the hilarious antics of our protagonists feel utterly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The film doesn’t have a real narrative, and instead opts for a mishmash of disorganised scenes that could easily have its pieces rearranged and still end up with the same puzzle solution. There was so many different small stories going on simultaneously that it became incredibly difficult to latch onto anything meaningfully.
The original Trainspotting did this too but there was method to its madness. It felt as though every small plot tied together beautifully, seamlessly transitioning from one moment to the next, all held up by the internal monologue of the protagonist Renton. In T2, I would hesitate to say Renton is actually the main character of this one. He gets just as much screen time as his three partners in crime. In fact, I’d be more confident in saying Begbie is the lead, since he seems to be the only character with an arc.
Despite the scenes lacking any coherent threads, they are entertaining overall. It’s truly wonderful to see these four characters at it again, causing havoc in the streets of Edinburgh. One scene that stood out was a sing-song in a Glaswegian protestant pub, in which Renton and Sick Boy join in uproarious harmony with the crowd as they proudly announce again and again, “there were no more catholics left!” This scene alone had me laughing hysterically, and there were more moments like this scattered throughout the film. Where T2 lacks in story, it makes up for in its entertainment factor.
The scenes are made all the more engaging by Danny Boyle’s wonderful attention to style. There is a lot of visual humour, clever camerawork and absurdist moments, helping this completely stand out nowadays. I’d even say that I would watch this again just to experience the fantastic aesthetic all over again.
T2 clearly wants to be as good as its predecessor, and in some ways it is, even better in some cases. I never went into this expecting a masterclass of cinema that would totally outclass the original (which, by the way, is one of my favourite films of all time). This needed to be good, and it certainly has a personality and uniqueness to it. Unfortunately, the whole thing felt rather ‘forgettable’, a word I hoped to never use for a film related to one of the greatest films ever made. T2 did not disappoint, but it never comes close to the utter prowess of its dear old dad.