‘Trainspotting 2' trailer shows the gang up to its not-quite-identical tricks

‘Trainspotting 2'
From left: Spud (Ewen Bremner), Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) Begbie (Robert Carlyle) return in “Trainspotting 2.”
(Sony Pictures)

There are movies you know will get sequels. There are movies you expect will get sequels. There are movies you wonder might get sequels.

Then there’s “Trainspotting.”

Danny Boyle’s heroin-not-so-chic, young-Scots-adrift tale was a classic in 1996, at once exoticizing and sympathizing with its working-class heroes. Based on Irvine Welsh’s 1993 book, it was so singularly of its time — so singularly of its director’s time (Boyle’s second film, before anything Hollywood) — that returning to it seems less a head-scratcher than an impossibility.

But Welsh in fact did just that himself, publishing the follow-up “Porno” in 2002. The book picks up on the activities of the gang a decade later, now enmeshed in the porn business. And Boyle, well, after the mixed experience of “Steve Jobs” you could imagine he might be seeking a return to his own grittier roots.


And so the creative team and the actors — slightly older and, with the likes of Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller, a lot more successful — reunited and shot a movie earlier this year.

The first trailer for the film (warning: contains, unsurprisingly, drug use and nudity), which arrives in U.S. theaters from Sony in February, hit Thursday morning. In its slickly edited glory shows Spud, Renton and the rest of the crew together and back to, well, some tricks, if not their old ones.

“So what you been up to — for 20 years,” Renton says to Sick Boy at the beginning of the spot as the latter walks in to Renton’s (very swish) house.

What follows in the (more mood-setting than plot-heavy) spot are plenty of callbacks to the original — Renton and Diane in bed, a falling-off-a-building moment (this time backward), even a grimy-bathroom shot.  


But it’s clear this is no simple nostalgia exercise. Underworld’s “Born Slippy,” the original’s leitmotif, opens the trailer but soon gives way to a new song. Renton and Diane are now in bed engaging in what appears to be a heart-to-heart (and a tidy breakfast their only accessory). Renton has, apparently, chosen life — “No,” he says to an early question of whether he still uses.

Oh yes, the “Choose” speech is cleverly updated too — “Choose reality TV, slutshamng, revenge porn... Choose Facebook, Choose Twitter, Choose Instagram, and hope that someone somewhere cares.”

And then, a little hark back to regret — “Choose looking up old flames wishing you’d done it differently.” Moving forward doesn’t mean you can’t look back.

There is an essential problem at the heart of a “Trainspotting” sequel. The original was about people who didn’t want to grow up — whose raison d'être was avoiding a certain kind of bourgeois maturity. Following them into their forties would, then, seem like a unique kind of challenge. Because either they’ve wandered right into what they said they never would, and then you’re just watching every piece of suburban fiction ever written. Or they’re a bunch of walking Peter Pan Complexes reliving their first-film exploits, and who wants to watch that?

From the looks of it, though, Boyle and writer John Hodge seem to have found some nuanced middle ground, where the characters are not who they were but not necessarily who they swore they’d never become, either.

Core human tendencies don’t change in two decades, the trailer suggests. But the context for them does. “You’re an addict so be addicted; just be addicted to something else,” the updated Choose speech exhorts.

The trailer closes with Renton getting upended by a car, a clear homage to the chase scene that bookended the first film. But he’s not on the run, he’s not with a posse and it looks more like a country road than a crowded Edinburgh street. And when he gets up, he actually smiles, then even laughs, exhilarated and disbelieving he made it here  All indications so far are that we’ll feel the same way.

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