Based on the Irvine Welsh novel of the same name, Trainspotting was adapted by filmmaker Danny Boyle in 1996 to much acclaim and controversy. Though the film – in which Ewan McGregor delivered a breakthrough performance as the heroin addicted Mark Renton isn’t Boyle’s most financially or even critically successful work, it did achieve a cult status that resonated with the zeitgeist of the late 1990s. Even today, the film holds up surprisingly well, feeling every bit as gritty and disturbing as it did in 1996.
It’s been 15 years since Welsh wrote the sequel to Trainspotting; an equally dark and hilarious work called Porno – but despite the success of the book, Boyle has waited until now to adapt the story, which has been retitled T2 Trainspotting. As the film deals first with what Renton has been doing since we last saw him in Trainspotting, it makes sense that the sequel’s first featurette made him its point of focus. But the cast of Trainspotting was something of an ensemble and T2 won’t be any different in that regard.
As a result, Sony Pictures has released its latest T2 Trainspotting featurette (above), this time focussing on the often-hilarious pal of Mark Renton, Spud. Played by Ewen Bremner (Snowpiercer), Spud might have changed physically in the 20 years since we last saw him, but unfortunately, he’s still hooked on heroin. The featurette reveals that with Renton’s return to Edinburgh from Amsterdam, his soft spot for Spud hasn’t disappeared. Renton apparently allies himself with Spud to help his friend kick drugs for good.
Trainspotting fans will likely feel that from a moral standpoint at least, Spud was easily the most sympathetic of Trainspotting’s cast of junkies. He was often comic relief when it was most needed and his soft-spoken demeanor meant that even when he had to pay the price for theft as the result of his addiction, the audience hated to see him suffer. Especially when the likes of Renton and the others got away with a slap on the wrist or less. Spud’s likeable persona did pay off somewhat however, as the ending of Trainspotting sees Renton leave him half the money that he steals. Now that Mark’s back in Edinburgh, audiences should enjoy seeing him help his old friend once again.
As much as both Renton and Spud stood out in Trainspotting, there’s one character that every Trainspotting fan is rubbing their hands together in delight over seeing again: Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle). No one can forget that in order to get the money that Renton split with Spud and used to start a new life in Amsterdam, it had to first be stolen from Begbie. The psychopathic antics of Begbie were at once terrifying and laugh out loud hilarious in Trainspotting, so 20 years of stewing over a stolen duffle bag of cash at the hands of Mark Renton likely isn’t going to make things go any smoother. The smart money on Sony’s next character featurette will likely be him.
T2 Trainspotting has a long way to go to reach the level of impact and acclaim that the first film did. The world has changed a lot since 1996, but one thing that remains as timely as it was in Trainspotting’s heyday is drug addiction. Some would say that the world is an even darker place now than it was in 1996 and perhaps it is. But T2 seems to have its focus on change and how positive change can right past wrongs no matter how dark or pervasive they may be – an uplifting concept if ever there was one.