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Renton Comes Hone In T2: Trainspotting

Updated on April 22, 2017


After twenty years living abroad, Mark "Rent Boy" Renton has returned to his native Edinburgh to make amends with his old mates. In T2: Trainspotting, Renton (Ewan McGregor) has to wonder if his efforts will be enough to make his old acquaintances forgive him. He returns from spending the last twenty years in Amsterdam to reconnect. He finds Daniel "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner) on the verge of ending his life, and stops the suicide attempt, which Spud does not appreciate. Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) now runs a pub, but also runs a blackmailing scheme with his Bulgarian girlfriend, Veronika Kovach (Anjela Nedyalkova). The reunion between Mark and Simon doesn't start well, either. Each of these men, though, comes to make peace with Renton - and take their share of the drug deal money Renton had kept to himself for all this time.

Unhappy to see any of his old mates, though, is Francis "Franco" Begbie (Robert Carlyle). His violent behavior landed him in prison for a long stretch. When Begbie again gets denied parole, he gets an inmate to stab him and send him to the hospital. From there, he successfully manages an escape and makes his way home to his wife and son. He resumes his criminal life as a burglar in the process. On a night on the town, Begbie spots Renton and gives chase, but Renton gives Begbie the slip. Begbie remains undeterred to get tabs on Renton and the others. Meanwhile, Renton and Simon run a scam to turn the pub into a brothel with business grant money, with mixed results. Spud, with Veronika's encouragement, starts to document his old escapades in the hopes of getting his memoirs published. All of this doesn't stop the squabbling and scheming among any of them.


T2: Trainspotting reunites its four lead actors with director Danny Boyle and scenarist John Hodge, who adapts Irvine Welsh's novels Porno and portions of Trainspotting to T2. The movie presents a quartet of interesting, but flawed, characters looking at dead ends as they approach middle age. While Renton, Simon, and Spud have had some legitimate success in the working world, they seem to fare better at small crime - and they're not all that good at that. In one sequence, Renton and Simon encounter a local who has heard of their plans to open a brothel on his turf, and he proceeds to openly humiliate them before he's satisfied they're not going to infringe. T2 has plenty of moments of humor, such as Spud's lack of knowledge of the concept of British Summer Time, and the impact his lack of knowledge has. The humor, however, shares time with the notion that these men have wasted a lot of their lives with addiction and money scheming. Viewers shpuld want these characters to get their act together, though the ending doesn't make clear how well they will fare.

The character I liked best here was Bremner's Spud, who always thinks about finding a way to provide for his wife and son. Spud's brain doesn't always fire on all cylinders, but he just wants to make up for the mistakes that have cost him so much. Bremner's a comic ball of energy as he puts pencil to paper to tell the tales of his life and times. McGregor's also good as Renton, who tries to hide his failures and falls into old habits. He's the most level-headed one of the quartet, and uses that to help pitch the prospective business venture in a legitimate light. Miller does fine as Simon, who's graduated from heroin to cocaine as he tries to make Veronika happy and keep the pub afloat. Carlyle may be loud and nasty as Begbie, but he also learns that crime doesn't run in his family when he takes his son on a heist. Nedyalkova is sold as Veronika, who puts kind words into everyone's heads as she works her angles. Also returning in small parts are Kelly Macdonald as Diane Coulston, an old acquaintance who now works as a solicitor, James Cosmo as the concerned Mr. Renton, and Shirley Henderson as Gail Houston, who tried making a life with Spud. Author Welsh also reprises his onscreen role as the gang's old fence, Mikey Forrester.


T2: Trainspotting offers up a new batch of comic misadventures, as well as a somber reminder of failures that follow these men along the way. Life usually creates a routine that, at least, reaps some benefit, but these four have yet to latch onto a real benefit. T2 reminds viewers that time grows shorter for all of them to maintain a real responsibility. Perhaps they should entertain the notion of rehab before they waste too much more of their existence.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give T2: Trainspotting three stars. Good, but not addicting.

T2: Trainspotting trailer


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