Let’s be honest, there are too many sequels, remakes and others of the sort out there. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Your thoughts on Trainspotting 2, will greatly depend on what you’re looking to get out of a sequel. If you loved Trainspotting and wanted the sequel to be exactly the same, to give you everything you enjoyed out of the first one, you’re not going to find it in Trainspotting 2. If you want a movie that understands the inevitability of time as “20 years later” and story progression, you’ll find that in Trainspotting 2.
What I loved about the first Trainspotting was the harshness of the film. There were plenty of moments that were genuinely hard to watch, whether it be the harsh consequences of heroin abuse and the lives that were lost, or witnessing how truly terrible every character was. Trainspotting 1 is not your typical date night movie, but at the time, there was something unique to it. There was no glorification of drug abuse, there was no glorification of poverty, there was no glorification of the lives these people lived. Instead, there was honesty. Life isn’t filled with grand gestures, brilliant epiphanies or saccharine moments. Life can be hard, and the characters in Trainspotting had a hard life.
The sequel does away with the biting harsh reality introduced in the first Trainspotting. It takes place 20 years later and so, the characters have changed throughout time. At their core, they’re still the same terrible people, but they have matured in some regard. The sequel replaces the hardness of the original, and instead adds a melancholic vibe. The characters are aware that it’s been two decades. The know that they’re in the same place they’ve always been.
Watching the film, the pity you had for the characters in the first movie shifts to empathy. Flashbacks to days when the characters were kids and when the world was their oyster, acts as an eye opener, as you realise that everyone starts out the same, with hopeful sparkles in their eyes, but hardships in life can lead to these terrible situations. In a nutshell, the sequel makes you care about all these characters they introduced in the first one. Sickboy, Spud, Bigby and Mark feel like real people, who show different sides of themselves in this new movie. While Trainspotting 1 emphasised honest reality, Trainspotting 2 emphasises honest characters.
The main problem with the film, is that it lacks that very grit which made the first film special and unique. Trainspotting 2 isn’t a bad film at all, in fact it is quite good, but it’s not in the same league as its predecessor. It’s good because of the funny and interesting moments and after all, Danny Boyle is a great director. It just needed more of those truly spectacular moments that makes a great film.
In all honesty, if Trainspotting had to get a sequel, I’m glad it got the one it did.