Five things we learned from the first full trailer for T2: Trainspotting

Do the drugs still work – if so, which ones? Hooray, Kelly Macdonald is still in it, Begbie is, thankfully, still angry and who’s not been using moisturiser?

American audiences were so confused by the Edinburgh patois spoken by the cast of the original Trainspotting movie that producers famously re-dubbed the opening 20 minutes of an early US cut to make it easier to understand. Thanks to the rather strange decision to title the sequel T2, filmgoers this time around are more likely to be left baffled when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s red-eyed cyborg singularly fails to turn up and avert the machine apocalypse.

At least there are plenty of other familiar faces in Danny Boyle’s long-awaited return to the story of Rent Boy, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie. Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle are all back, and there’s even a prominent spot in the trailer for Kelly Macdonald’s Diane Coulston, whose youthful reveal gave Renton such a shock all those years ago. But does this second, belated dose of Trainspotting course through the veins with all the glorious, destructive potency of the 1996 film? Or has somebody given us a weakened measure this time around? Here are five takeaways from the first full-length trailer.

Danny Boyle, left, and Ewan Bremner filming T2 earlier this year.
Choosing life – or nostalgia? … Danny Boyle, left, and Ewan Bremner filming T2 earlier this year. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

1. Not all of the original cast have been using their moisturiser

Boyle joked back in 2008 that Trainspotting 2 would happen when actors such as McGregor and Miller had aged a little. “The problem is, they don’t look any different at the moment from when Trainspotting was made,” he told the AV Club. “Actors stay suspended in that timeless moment where they’re moisturising and looking after themselves and making sure they keep fit and healthy, because it’s their work, it’s their future employment. But when time ravages them, we will be waiting for them.”

McGregor and Miller have clearly been looking after themselves, the latter in particular an impressively svelte 43. But Carlyle, to be fair always a decade older than his peers, could be 60 as Begbie despite the throwback Madchester-era fisherman’s hat. And the years do not seem to have treated Bremner’s hangdog, eternally gawping Spud well at all.

2. Renton is still choosing life, while Boyle has opted for nostalgia

The movie itself may yet be a different proposition, but this first full-length trailer is clearly on a mission to rekindle the passions of those who adored the first Trainspotting. McGregor is still harping on about lifestyle choices, but this time it’s our reliance on social media and porn that’s getting his goat. The sonic stun-gun that is Underworld’s Born Slippy gets a run out, and there’s a sense that Boyle will be doing his level best to recapture the wired, kinetic intensity of the original, complete with phantasmagorical segues and those sudden, thrilling instances of extreme violence.

3. Rent Boy’s drug of choice this time around is something expensive and miscellaneous

Despite all its horrors – baby Dawn’s death will always haunt our dreams – there was something genuinely life-affirming about the original Trainspotting. Boyle’s electrifying vision of the culture clash between Thatcher’s decaying, icy-hearted 80s Britain and the hopeful storm of the coming 90s rave era. Heroin’s washed-out nihilism versus ecstasy’s spiky hedonism.

Surely to have anything like the same impact, part two will need to document a similar shift in the zeitgeist. But are we living in less interesting times? Boyle seems to be politely pointing out that, in 2016, drugs just aren’t what they used to be. In any case, aren’t our beloved gang of Edinburgh reprobates a bit old to be sniffing ersatz cocaine in their mid-40s?

Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle in the original Trainspotting
Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle in the original Trainspotting Photograph: Allstar/POLYGRAM FILMED ENTERTAI/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

4. It’s not clear how much Porno we’re expected to consume

Irvine Welsh’s 2002 follow-up novel to Trainspotting centres on Renton’s return to Edinburgh after a decade away running a nightclub in Amsterdam – a distinctly 90s pastime. Boyle has said he will only loosely adapt the original book, which makes sense as the porn industry backdrop that worked reasonably well in 2002 has since been swept away by the rise of free sites. But perhaps traces of Porno remain, as the young woman seen smiling winsomely at Renton might well be student turned amateur porn star Nikki Fuller-Smith – always one of Welsh’s most unwieldy creations – from the original novel.

5. Begbie is still angry

Whether Porno’s sex industry backdrop has been retained or not, Boyle has clearly kept the storyline surrounding Francis “Franco” Begbie’s return home after years in prison, and there’s a strong suggestion that the now-ageing thug hasn’t forgiven Rent Boy for ripping him off all those years ago. Speaking of which, Sick Boy greets his old pal with a measure of relative bonhomie, given he was also a victim of that entirely reasonable betrayal. But beneath the snakelike charm, one suspects Miller’s blonde barman might just be even more dangerous to our hero’s hopes of making it to the final credits.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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