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Film / T2 Trainspotting

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T2 Trainspotting is the 2017 sequel to 1996's Trainspotting, reuniting director Danny Boyle, writer John Hodge and much of the core cast.

It picks up the story of Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud, also some 20 years later, and is partly based on Irvine Welsh's own sequel to the original novel, Porno.

This film provides examples of

  • Aborted Arc: Sick Boy's prosecution for extortion. While Diane suggests a possible defence for Sick Boy, it's dropped after that and nothing later in the film suggests it succeeded or that any further court proceedings occurred.
    • Indeed, the extortion arrest largely serves to deprive them of their recent ill-gotten gains so they have to apply for the loan, so Veronika can steal it with Spud's help and return to Bulgaria at the end of the film.
  • Abusive Parents: Begbie shows traces of this towards his son, Frank Jr., showing contempt of his son's desire to go to college and into hotel management, swearing at him and belittling him when he threatens Frank Jr. to hit him and he doesn't.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Sick Boy of all people ends up saving Renton's life.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Alison's role in Porno is taken by Gail, which actually makes more sense, as Gail had a pre-existing relationship with Spud in the first filmnote .
    • Gav has a minor role in the novel, being the only friend Renton has stayed in contact with since absconding with the money, but here he's only mentioned by Sick Boy, despite appearing in the previous film.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • Nikki and Katrin, Sick Boy and Renton's respective love interests in Porno, are conflated into Sick Boy's bird Veronika in T2, inheriting Nikki's connections and deception to Sick Boy, while also being a foreign character to contrast the Edinburgh natives, like Katrin (with the difference being that she is Bulgarian, as opposed to the German Katrin).
    • While Sick Boy's scam is indeed what makes up the crux of the plot in T2, the overarching idea of the titular porno from the book is not, being changed into a brothel, eschewing several characters (such as Rab and Juice Terry) who were important in the making of the original plan.
    • Frank Jr. takes the role of the person whom Begbie swindles into committing crime, unlike the man attempting to rob his girlfriend's house from Porno.
    • Begbie's two encounters with Renton in Porno are combined in T2: Begbie manages to find him in an adjacent bathroom stall, which then starts his trailblazing manhunt of him which ends in failure.
  • Addiction Displacement: Renton advises Spud on how to overcome his heroin addiction by replacing his habit with something more productive. Spud eventually takes up writing and pens his memoir.
  • Age Lift: Unlike the Porno novel, which took place ten years after the events of Trainspotting, T2 takes places twenty years after Trainspotting.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Francis Begbie plans to escape from prison by getting himself transferred to a civilian hospital; to this end, he has a fellow inmate superficially stab him in the belly. Unfortunately, the "hitman" gets a little bit carried away and skewers his client's liver, leaving his victim (no stranger to pain) lying on the floor in a pool of blood, howling in agony. Only immediate medical attention saves his life.
  • Aimlessly Seeking Happiness:
    • Twenty years after choosing life in the previous film, Mark Renton finds himself divorced, childless, redundant from his job, fresh from a heart attack and back in Edinburgh: he now has no idea what to do with himself or what could bring him joy, and ends up falling in with Sick Boy's con artist antics because he can't think of anything better to do with his time. However, though he does enjoy slipping back into his long-abandoned criminal lifestyle, he eventually makes it clear that he's still pretty sad, his new "choose life" rant featuring a mention of "the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for."
    • Spud also falls into this, but in a different way: as a recovering heroin addict, he's looking for a new hobby that can keep him grounded and happy - in other words, a healthier kind of addiction. He toys around with various ideas, including jogging, building, boxing, until at last he settles for chronicling the escapades he and his friends used to get into as a series of short stories. They end up getting published at the end of the film.
  • The Alcoholic: Begbie's dad is a wino hanging around an abandoned train station.
  • Asshole Victims: The 1690 pub customers.
    • Renton and Sick Boy too for that matter.
  • Arc Words: "First, there's an opportunity, and then there's a betrayal."
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Inverted when Begbie talks Mr. Wilson out of handcuffing him to the stretcher so he can escape the hospital while Wilson uses the bathroom.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Renton saving Spud while the latter is attempting suicide.
    • At the end, while Renton is trapped in cables and being strangled, Sick Boy sprays pepper spray in Begbie's face and saves Renton, then Spud stops Begbie from shooting Renton and Sick Boy by knocking Begbie out with a toilet bowl.
  • Bookends: Begbie is first seen in prison having been refused parole. At the end, Renton, Sick Boy and Spud dump him back at the prison.
    • Renton returns to his parent's flat and puts "Lust for Life" on a record player. At first he can't bring himself to listen to it. At the end he smiles and dances.
    • The ending also effectively bookends the entire movie series by not only incorporating "Lust for Life" like the intro of the first movie but also intersperses scenes of old Renton and young Renton (ripped out of the intro scene of the original movie) arching back in euphoria.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Veronika, tired of Renton and Sick Boy's plotting against one another, steals the funding money with Spud's help and flees back to Bulgaria, rendering all of their efforts pointless. Sick Boy lost his "girlfriend" and is stuck in the same desperate spot he was before. Spud's son has written him off. On the positive side, Begbie's thrown back in jail, Renton has seemingly repaired his relationships with Sick Boy and his father, and Spud has managed to kick his addiction to heroin by writing about the events of his life, with his wife suggesting he make it in to a book.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Sick Boy's schemes fit this trope ... he and even the police call it extortion, but it's blackmail.
  • Break the Comedian: Spud has suffered a huge case of this by the start of this film. Having lost his job, unemployment benefits, and access to his son due to a colossal misunderstanding of British Summertime, he's started using heroin again... and by his second scene, he's lost all hope and all humour, deciding to kill himself to spare his family any further shame - only to be unexpectedly rescued by Renton. What follows is a slow journey towards recovery that sees Spud channelling his addiction into various productive hobbies, allowing him to gradually return to happily goofing around as he did back in the first film.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Played with in Spud's case. He comes across as a bit weird due to him still being a junkie, but he's skilled in construction, forging signatures and writing, and that last one even impressed Begbie.
  • Call-Back: The film is interspersed with short flashbacks from the first film.
    • The "worst toilet in Scotland" scene from the first film is referenced when Renton and Begbie are in adjacent toilet cubicles and they each realise this.
    • Spud briefly imagines seeing himself and Renton as themselves from the first film running down the street after shoplifting, before snapping out of it.
    • Tommy taking the others to the great outdoors is referred to when Renton, Sick Boy and Spud honour Tommy's memory with flowers at the same site he took them to. In the same scene, Renton mentions Dawn, Sick Boy's infant daughter who died in the first film from neglect. A flashback to that scene from the first film shows Sick Boy sobbing. Like the trek in the original movie, the remembrance also prompts Mark and Simon to take a hit of heroin, this time for old time's sake and while a rehabilitating Spud watches from the sideline. Albeit, it's possible in this case that it might have been Spud fantasising about the other two relapsing.
    • Renton being hit by a car in the opening sequence of the first film while being chased is referred to when Renton is trying to escape from Begbie on top of a car and he rolls off of it on to the bonnet, then on to the ground. He even looks at the driver and laughs, like he did in the first film.
    • When Renton accompanies Veronika to Diane's law office to deal with Simon's blackmail case, Diane comments to Renton on how Veronika, who is 20 years his junior, is too young for him, alluding to Renton's relationship with the then underaged Diane in the first film.
    • Renton goes on a rant which takes the form of an angrier version of the first film's "Choose Life" speech.
    • Gail gives Spud his stuff in a bag from John Menzies ... the store he and Renton are caught stealing from in the opening sequence of the first film.
    • A deleted scene has Renton and Spud stealing an iPad from an Apple Store before bolting down Princes Street like in the original, albeit without security guards to chase them this time.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Mr Wilson does this in the hospital scene by telling Begbie he's off for a dump.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Given that it takes place twenty years after the first film, this is inevitable. Boyle joked that, given the vanity of actors, the film would take a while to get made. And the source novel Porno also treats the aging process as a major theme.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: By far the biggest obstacle in Sick Boy and Renton's reconciliation is their constant scheming against one another: Renton by dating Veronika behind Sick Boy's back, and Sick Boy by planning to sic Begbie on Renton. Indeed, when the two have gotten all the money they need and have accomplished everything they've set out to do in the finale, they immediately begin plotting to steal all the money from one another. It takes Veronika double-crossing them and taking all the money for herself, and Begbie almost killing Renton, for them to move past this and properly mend their friendship.
  • Compromising Call: Renton escapes from Begbie in the club and is able to hide in a car park. Then Simon, who stayed back in the club, rings his phone to ask where he is and blows his cover.
  • Country Matters: Begbie is no stranger to C-bombs, even when talking to his son.
    • Begbie's reaction when he realises that Renton is in the stall next to him at the nightclub? "CUUUUNT!"
  • Creator Cameo: Irvine Welsh returns as Mikey Forrester, who has apparently moved up in the criminal underworld since the first film.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Sick Boy mentions that Swanney passed away some time between films, whereas in Porno, he is mentioned to have made his way to Thailand, despite having had his leg amputated.
    • Renton's mother has also apparently died, as opposed to still being alive and well in Porno.
  • Demoted to Extra: Diane has only two scenes in which she appears, one of which is only briefly in the background.
    • Some later scenes, from later in the film, in which she lets Renton stay in her flat but tells him they had no chance of a long-term relationship, ever, were cut.
  • Determinator: Begbie was a violent man when he went into prison 20 years ago. He's been nursing a grudge against Renton ever since.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Begbie was one to his son, Frank Jr., while he was in prison, until he broke out and made his way home. Spud's writing also recounts how Begbie's wino father was implied to be largely out of Begbie's picture in his youth, explaining Begbie's need to seek violence since a young age.
    • Spud became one to his son with Gail, Fergus, after losing custody of him.
    • Sick Boy, who tells Renton he has a son living in London with his "whore mother" whom he sees only once "every ten years."
  • Driven to Suicide: Spud, thinking himself a burden, decides to kill himself.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Begbie, who is definitely evil but still has a wife, June, and son, Frank Jr., at home. He even named his son after himself and sees him as a chip off the old block, even though it's not true.
    • To a lesser degree, Simon, who engages in various criminal enterprises and plans to do in a returned Mark, but does care for Veronika and comes to repair his relationship with Mark.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Double-subverted with Begbie. When he first returns home, he sees his son, Frank Jr., as a chip off the old block, even down to naming him after himself, while his son wants to go to college. In their last scene together, Begbie hugs Frank Jr. and tells him he can be a better man than Begbie himself is, implying he now accepts his son's decision to attend college.
  • Expy: Veronika plays a similar role to Nikki in Porno in that she's apparently shacked up with Sick Boy, is involved in prostitution and runs away with the money in the end, except she screws over Renton as well.
  • First-Name Basis: Veronika refers to Renton, Sick Boy and Spud by their respective first names of Mark, Simon and Daniel. Renton tells Diane that Sick Boy goes by his name of Simon these days.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In the car park scene, a man is seen passing Begbie as he walks to his car. Later in the scene he drives out of the car park and Renton jumps on top of the car to try and escape from Begbie.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Renton and Sick Boy are able to drain the Orange Order fools' bank accounts with their stolen cards because so many of them use "1690" as their PIN.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: As with the first film, Begbie is this to Renton, Sick Boy and Spud because of his violent mood swings and because of how they, particularly Spud, are scared of what he would do if he wasn't part of the group. Eventually, when he tries to kill Renton, Sick Boy and Spud turn on him and take him straight back to prison.
  • Functional Addict: Sick Boy seems to have exchanged heroin for cocaine as his drug of choice.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Sick Boy attempts this on Renton during their pub fight. It just results in the entire bottle shattering and cutting his hand.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Begbie talking Mr. Wilson out of cuffing him to the stretcher while Mr. Wilson goes to the bathroom, despite regulations requiring him to do so, resulting in Begbie's escape.
  • Happy Ending Override: Turns out that Renton leaving Spud the money in the first film only got Spud so far. While Spud did well in the immediate years after by finding employment, quitting heroin and starting a family with Gail, his total lack of awareness of British Summer Time (Britain's daylight saving time) undid all that. Not only was he doomed to lose his construction job, but miss further opportunities for social security and reemployment, and even lose access to his son due to unintentional negligence. Being a former junky, he wound up living away from family in a dilapidated flat and returned to skag, sending his life into another downward spiral.
    • It also turns out that Renton's genuine attempt to better himself by fleeing to Amsterdam didn't do him much good. Renton was implied to have found a decent profession and married, but by the start of the film, he has just divorced, is expected to be jobless due to a merger, and had just suffered a serious heart condition, forcing him to return to Edinburgh to confront the consequences of his actions.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sick Boy is arguably on Begbie's side when the two conspire to kill Renton for betraying them, but comes round in the end when he saves Renton's life and turns his back on Begbie for good.
  • Held Back in School: Begbie. Mentioned by Renton during their final confrontation, as he recalls how he and Begbie met as schoolchildren.
  • I Am Not My Father: Both Frank Jr. and Fergus seem to have decided this.
  • Idiot Ball: Begbie talks Mr Wilson out of handcuffing him when he goes to the toilet, allowing Begbie to escape the second the door closes behind him.
  • Improvised Weapon: Sick Boy uses pool cues and a bell in his fight with Renton, and in the climax, Spud knocks Begbie out with a toilet bowl.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Renton arrives at Spud's flat to find him trying to suffocate himself with a bag and rescues him.
  • Left the Background Music On: On several occasions.
    • High Contrast's "Shotgun Mouthwash", which opens the film much like Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" did in the original, drops abruptly when Renton collapses from his heart attack, yet can still be faintly heard in the background as the ambient music of the gym while he lies on the floor.
    • The Rubberbandits provide the audio of the scene when Renton is at the airport, about to fly back to Amsterdam, while Simon watches the music video of their song "Dad's Best Friend" in his apartment. Then he sees Renton showing up at his doorstep and mutes his TV before letting him in.
    • The montage where Spud starts remodeling Simon's pub is set to Blondie's "Dreaming", which briefly switches to the jukebox when Spud puts the same song on it.
    • During the confrontation between Renton and Begbie in the parking, Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" starts playing as a car appears. The change of pitch when the viewpoint cuts to the driver inside makes it clear that the song is also playing on the car's autoradio, which is the only source left for the track after Renton falls off the roof following his getaway from Begbie.
  • Lighter and Softer: Not anywhere near as bleak as Trainspotting; There are no deaths, certainly no babies harmed, fewer scenes of heroin taking and it is generally more a more comedic film in tone.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Deconstructed by the Begbie arc. At first he's disappointed that his own son is working toward a legitimate career; but later, after reading Spud's account of his chance meeting with Begbie's own father, a homeless wino, in the abandoned Leith Central station, he realizes that it's better his son not follow in his footsteps.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Begbie, for most of the film
  • Made of Iron: Renton displays this. Aside from surviving heroin use he survives what is essentially a heart attack, getting beaten up by Simon (including a head-first collision into a wall), getting his entire arm slashed by Begbie, and being hanged until the edge of death.
    • Also, Begbie is able to tank a stab that he thinks is to his liver to set up his prison break, and later a porcelain toilet bowl to the head from Spud. Justified in the former case because he went to hospital for the injury.
  • Manly Tears: A flashback from the first film shows Sick Boy sobbing over the death of his infant daughter.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Invoked by Sick Boy while he and Renton are sitting in his flat:
    Sick Boy: Veronika doesn't really like staying over. She complains that it's a mess, or that sort of thing. It's not a mess, is it?
    Renton: No. It's just masculine.
  • Missing Mom: Renton's mother died at some point between the first film and this one.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Begbie employs this tactic as one of the steps in his plan to escape from prison, where he knocks out a doctor, dons his clothes and simply walks out.
  • My Local: Sick Boy has taken over his aunt's pub, which since it doesn't do much trade serves as a perfect front business for his extortion schemes.
  • Mythology Gag: Loads of them. Flashbacks to Trainspotting are integrated into the film, several plot elements from Porno (such as Sick Boy running a pub, Begbie having been in prison and the "1690" ATM card scam) make appearances and Spud's writings are actually chapters from the original book, including a word-to-word recounting of the Title Dropping train station scene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Renton leaving Spud £4000 eventually led Spud to spend it on smack.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Renton and Begbie are both in adjacent toilet cubicles in a club when they meet again. This causes an Oh, Crap! from Renton when he hears Begbie's voice.
    • Also averted earlier when Mr Wilson rather bluntly tells Begbie he's going for a dump.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Renton in the club's toilet cubicle when he realises Begbie is in the cubicle next to him.
    • Renton in the car park when his phone goes off while he's hiding from Begbie.
    • Sick Boy when Doyle shows up to kidnap him and Renton.
    • Spud after realising he DID write about Begbie after being threatened.
  • Parking Garage: Where Begbie chases Renton to after they recognize each other in the club's bathroom.
  • Pet the Dog: The last time Begbie is seen with his wife and son, where Begbie supports his son's decision to go to college, tells him he'll be a better man than him (Begbie) and his alcoholic grandfather, and then hugs him. It's the most human Begbie is throughout the film.
  • Pop-Up Texting: Late in the film, when Begbie uses Veronika's phone to lure Renton and Sick Boy to the parking garage.
  • Raging Stiffie: Begbie when the Viagra finally takes effect after he loses Renton outside the parking garage.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Shirley Henderson had more or less lost her voice during the shoot, resulting in Gail having almost no lines. The scene near the end where she tells Spud she's thought of a title for his writings was the last scene shot for the film, two weeks after principal photography ended, after her voice had returned to normal.note 
  • Recovered Addict: Renton and, later, Spud.
  • Say My Name: When Renton sees that Spud is trying to kill himself, he screams, "SPUD!" before breaking into Spud's flat to save him.
  • Self-Insert Fic: The film seems to be revealing that Spud is Irvine Welsh, even if he's actually in the film already playing Mikey Forrester again.
  • Setting Update: From 1998 (as finally established in Dead Men's Trousers) in the Porno novel to the 2010s in the film.
  • Shout-Out: Spud's Imagine Spot when he is at the boxing club is a hilarious homage to the intro of Raging Bull.
  • Significant Double Casting: Robert Carlyle not only reprises his role as Begbie, but also plays Begbie's drunkard father in the Leith Central flashback to further symbolize how Begbie's destructive life choices are ultimately not dissimilar to his father's.
  • So Much for Stealth: Renton hides from Begbie in a Parking Garage and Sick Boy, having seen Renton fleeing from the club after Begbie recognized him, calls him to find out where he is, blowing Renton's cover.
  • Staging an Intervention: A low-key version where Renton seems to take it upon himself to get Spud clean by making him run in the hills above Edinburgh and suggesting he find something more benign to addict his mind to. Spud still seems not to have quit, but then we see him trying boxing, which Mark had suggested, and finally writing, so we can find out he wrote all these stories down in the first place and get a plot point for the rest of the movie.note 
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Even though Renton did, after twenty years, give Sick Boy his £4000 share of the original £16000, Sick Boy is still angry that Renton stole the money in the first place, because they were supposed to be best friends, despite Renton saying (in both the first film and this one) that Sick Boy would have done the same thing to Renton if only he'd thought of it first.
    • Spud also reveals that giving him his share of the money at all wound up doing him little good in the end. As a result of a sequence of misfortunes, he did what one would expect a heroin addict who received a large amount of money would do; blew it all on skag and wound up going further downhill.
    • The film stresses that Renton's decision at the end of the first film, while being made out of a genuine desire of self-betterment, was also incredibly selfish and wound up hurting those close to him in ways he didn't even think of. The worst of it being Renton's mother, who was heart-broken when he left, left his room as it was in a sort of keepsake, and wound up dying while vainly hoping that he would return some day.
  • They Died Because of You: Sick Boy blames Renton for Tommy's death at the age of 23, while Renton hits back and says that Sick Boy was too busy filling his own veins with heroin to check that his infant daughter, Dawn, was breathing properly, and as a result died from neglect (her mother, Alison, was also a junkie). A flashback to that scene shows Sick Boy sobbing over Dawn's body.
  • Throw It In: In-Universe: Sick Boy and Renton's improvised sectarian song.
  • Title Drop:
    • Used in a sentence during the "Trainspotting in Leith Central Station" vignette that Spud remembers and writes aboutnote .
    • Averted in the scene near the end when Gail tells Spud she has an idea for what to call his writings, right after reading the aforementioned vignette.
  • A True Story in My Universe: In this film, it turns out that Spud wrote Trainspotting, as several of the chapters turn up as his stories. Gail even declares that she has come up with a title in the ending.
  • Trust Password: Played straight with Renton and Sick Boy's improvised sectarian song; subverted with "1690" as the widely-used and easily-guessable bank card PIN.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Even though Renton gave Sick Boy his £4000 share of the original £16000, Sick Boy is still angry because it didn't come with interestnote , and giving him the money after twenty years won't get rid of the fact that Renton stole it in the first place.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The only other occupant of the club during Renton and Sick Boy's fight takes barely any notice of them.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Spud is initially angry with Renton for saving his life as he is still a junkie and heroin has taken its toll on him, Gail, and their son, Fergus, who he has just lost custody of and feels he has nothing else to live for. Renton and Veronika convince him otherwise.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Renton saves Spud and stops him from committing suicide, Spud vomits into the bag. While it's still around his head.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Renton and Sick Boy to each other at Tommy's memorial regarding the death of someone else because of heroin, where Sick Boy blames Renton for Tommy's death at the age of 23, and while Renton admits it was his fault, he blames Sick Boy for causing his daughter's death from starvation and neglect because of his own addiction.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities:
    • Spud's ability to forge anyone's signature plays a part in the ending when he screws Renton and Sick Boy out of their grant to give to Veronika.
    • Spud's skills in construction come into play when he starts doing up the first floor of Sick Boy's pub. It also explains why, at the end, there is a toilet bowl around, which Spud knocks Begbie out with.


Video Example(s):


Choose Life, Veronika

Twenty years after he decided to give up on drugs and "choose life," Mark Renton discusses the origin of the old line with Veronika, providing new ways for it to parody the futility of modern life... only to end up discussing just how miserable he is and how hopeless his life has secretly become.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / DespairSpeech

Media sources: