Sequels only ever serve to tarnish the legacy of the original. Dumb and Dumber To, Jaws II, The Exorcist II, Carrie 2, Next Friday, The Matrix Reloaded, Oceans Twelve… The list is as long and ugly as an Argentinian blue duck’s wang.
So when I sat down to watch Trainspotting 2, I preemptively gave a long, disappointed sigh. How could this movie not suck? It had to suck. A sequel to Trainspotting, the movie that defined a generation of listless twenty-somethings in the late 1990s? That can’t be good.
And I was right, it wasn’t good–it was fucking brilliant. Absolutely flawless. I saw it three days ago and I’m still waiting for the goosebumps to go down. It was like catching up with old friends after twenty years and comparing crow’s feet and hairlines. It was one of the most extraordinary cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. You’re probably thinking, “Hang on, Crombie, you silly old cunt, you were twenty when the first Trainspotting was in cinemas; are you sure you’re not on some big nostalgia trip?” First of all, don’t call me “cunt.” My mum reads this. Secondly, that’s a really good point, my glowing appraisal could totally be based on sentimentality. Only it isn’t. Case in point: my girlfriend never saw the first Trainspotting, and she loved T2 (why’d they call it that?) And P.S.—she’s no push-over. Believe it or not, she hated La La Land more than I did. Really. I wrote a review that compared La La Land to excrement no less than five times, but she erected a ‘hate shrine’ to the film in our living room. It’s made out of blood and hair and pages ripped from magazines. I’m scared of it. She promised to take it down after the Oscars, but it’s still there in the corner with flies buzzing around. While we’re talking about the Oscars, is it wrong that the Best Picture snafu gave me an erection? Because it did.
Back to Trainspotting T2—what’s it all about? Well, it’s twenty years since Renton buggered off with the £16,000, and now he’s come back to Scotland because his marital life in Amsterdam has taken a turn for the worse. Spud is still a heroin addict. He kicked for a while, but then started using again, and now his life is a shambles. Sick Boy is still Sick Boy, but he’s traded smack for coke and is running a prostitution blackmail scam with his much younger Bulgarian girlfriend. The dreaded Begbie is behind bars at HMP Edinburgh for (surprise, surprise) murder, and Tommy is still very much dead. As is the baby. The school girl Renton went home with in the first movie is now a lawyer in her mid-30s, and she helps the boys out of a scrape. That’s all I’m going to say; you have to go watch it. No spoilers here. Except in this one—Begbie breaks out of jail and comes after Renton. And that’s the only spoiler you’ll get. I don’t want to ruin it for you. Here’s another spoiler: Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, has a cameo. That’s all, no more. Go see it. One more thing–the use of music in this film is brilliant. If you were around when the first Trainspotting came out in ’96, you’ll know how big a deal the soundtrack was; you couldn’t enter a bar/store/doctor’s office without hearing Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” or Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. It was a legitimate phenomenon, and it’s back in T2, but the way they’ve integrated it into the movie… You’ll see. Very fucking clever. Sorry about all the swears.
Trainspotting number two is as relevant, funny, heartbreaking, thrilling and everything else as Trainspotting number one. It’s perfect. Faultless. Extraordinary. It makes Citizen Kane look like Weekend at Bernie’s.
P.s. the ‘Choose Life’ rant is back and updated with references Twitter and Instagram, but it’s not a cringe in the film like it is in the trailer up top. Promise.