T2 Trainspotting - Why This Sequel Had To Happen

T2 Trainspotting - Why This Sequel Had To Happen

As the Trainspotting sequel hits cinema this week, writer Hamish MacBain is on both sides of the should it/ shouldn't it be made debate....

7 Reasons Why This Sequel Had To Happen


It’s Trainspotting

It’s hard to think of another film from the ’90s whose every aspect – from artwork, to soundtrack, to opening monologue, to every last scene – has remained so iconic. It still feels like barely a month goes by without a parody of Renton’s shivering-in-a-drenched T shirt schtick popping up on some magazine cover or website. Twenty (-ish) years on, Trainspotting remains prominent in popular culture, and it does not feel like it is being revived solely for the purpose of making money.

It’s a journey that is still ongoing

The climax of the first film has to rate as one of the most satisfying in relatively recent cinematic history: gifting the two characters with any redeeming qualities (Spud and his innocence, Renton and his impulse to the right thing) a smattering of redemption while doing the opposite to the two out-and-out bastards (Begbie and Sickboy). It also left them all at the start of still-unwritten journeys, which makes the idea of reconnecting with them so much more appealing.


Speaking of out-and-out bastards, a large part of what has got people salivating with anticipation for the oddly-named T2 is the return of Robert Carlyle’s ultra-violent psychopath: the presence of whom means anything can always happen. And for ‘anything’ read ‘anything really horrible.’ Has prison mellowed him? What do you think?


The soundtrack

A film that reignited the career of Iggy Pop would have been worthwhile even if it had been rubbish. And just like its parent film, the soundtrack to the new Trainspotting is an eclectic mix of the old-but-great (Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’, Queen ‘Radio Ga Ga’) and the exciting and new: with the likes of Wolf Alice and Young Fathers both featuring in the tracklisting.

Danny Boyle

It’s nice to have this most recently-anointed of national treasures return to his masterpiece after he blew us all away four-and-a-bit years ago with his Olympic ceremony. Danny Boyle does not need to make this film, he is doing so because he wants to, and because he feels buoyed by the enthusiasm and love that has come from its audience.

It will make you think about your own life

Revisiting characters you loved when you were small is a good way of inciting thought about how right/wrong your own life has progressed during the intervening years. By comparison to this none-more-motley crew, one imagines you will feel alright.

It’s Trainspotting

Sorry, did we say this already? Must be the skag, ya ken?

...and seven reasons why it should have never have happened

There is way too much nostalgic cinema around as it is

Even bloody Dad’s Army got a remake last year: demonstrating that British cinema is far from immune from the desperate plundering of the past for cash that has engulfed Hollywood. And ok, this is not a remake, it’s a sequel, but one skim through the trailer reveals that it is aimed squarely – and solely – at those who came of age around the first one’s release.

Indie films are not supposed to do be doing this

Star Wars. Star Trek. Superman. Spiderman. Comic books have led the way in movies whose chief appeal is that they’re routed in the past, which is (kind of) fine. But for grittier, cultier indie fare to do so feels completely contrary to their ideals. In particular with Trainspotting, a one-off that does not need to be repeated.


Does anyone really feel the need to be reacquainted with the most thoroughly unpleasant men ever to saunter menacingly onto the silver screen? Begbie’s journey ended where it should have: in prison. For him to be anywhere else is stretching the boundaries of plausibility, frankly.

The fact that Kelly MacDonald is in it

Absolutely no disrespect to Kelly: a wonderful actor, and one of the best things about the first film. But there is simply no chance Diane would still be crossing paths with Renton: her character’s inclusion suggesting a box-ticking approach to what nostalgic fans want from a sequel, rather than anything new.


The book it’s based on is not much cop

Trainspotting is Irvine Welsh’s masterpiece. Porno is a so-so revisit of its characters. What does that lead you to think the film version of the latter is going to be like?

The actors all look too young and healthy

Danny Boyle has joked that he’s been waiting for the Trainspotting actors to age enough for the story he wants to tell. But it’s not the age that’s the problem. Ewan McGregor (now 45) literally looks like he has spent the past 20 years in either a) a bathtub filled with avocados or b) the gym. No way would Renton look this good.

It’s Trainspotting

Please just leave it the fuck alone, ya ken?


T2 Trainspotting is in cinemas on the 27th of January


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