The Fear of the Long Awaited Sequel – T2 Trainspotting by Emily Elphinstone
There’s a sense of foreboding that comes with the term ‘long awaited sequel’. All too often, long awaited sequels are merely an attempt to copy the magic of the original films, and cash in on their reputation. For every Creed or Mad Max: Fury Road, there is a Zoolander 2 or Dumb and Dumber To. For every Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is Star Wars episodes 1-3.
So why do they remain so popular? It may be a sense of morbid curiosity, it may be a genuine wish to discover what has happened to much loved characters; but much of our desire comes from nostalgia, and the wish to relive the first time we discovered that original film. As Dara O’Briain says appropriately: ‘Nostalgia is heroin for old people.’
Such is the case with T2 Trainspotting: The real draw lies in reliving the 1996 film, and rediscovering the legendary soundtrack. Only a single beat of the eponymous ‘Lust for Life’ is necessary, to evoke a world of memories for both the characters and the audience. However, director Danny Boyle uses this as an opportunity; creating a film as much about the characters’ past, as their present. And what’s more, he does this openly by giving the characters an awareness (and criticism) of their own sense of nostalgia; not least because of Spud’s burgeoning passion for writing. At moments, this becomes tedious, constantly looking backward rather than creating new material; but beautiful echoes of the earlier film, such as Renton (Ewan McGregor) sprawling himself over a car bonnet mid chase, really help to bring bring the film to life.
In the 20 years since Trainspotting helped turn Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, and (to a lesser extent) Ewen Bremner into household names; they have become more famous than their characters. This makes it harder to immerse fully into the world of the film, not helped by the decision to give very deliberately equal screen-time to the four characters. Ultimately T2 Trainspotting is not a great film, but it is great fun nonetheless … now we just have to wait for Blade Runner 2049.