LOVABLE won't be the right adjective to describe Mark, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie. They were the quartet of Scottish young men in Irvine Welsh's "Trainspotting", a subversive look into the Edinburgh drug scene during the late 1980s. Danny Boyle added some mind-bending charm into his big-screen adaptation of the book, and it was no surprise that this black comedy was voted as one of the Top 10 British films of the 20th century. Welsh did a follow-up book, as the whereabouts of the lads were detailed in "Porno". It happened a decade after Mark chose life (and relocated to the Netherlands). Boyle's sequel, "T2 Trainspotting" was loosely based from "Porno". The premise showed the quartet twenty years after Mark ran away with the drug money that the four agreed to split on. It was a perfect, if not feel-good, ending to what have been a roller-coaster ride. There were many reasons why Boyle waited that long.
Boyle and Ewan McGregor, who played Mark Renton, have a falling out after the English filmmaker passed up the Scottish actor in favor of Leonardo DiCaprio for his celluloid version of Alex Garland's "The Beach". Boyle went on to win an Academy Award (for "Slumdog Millionaire") while McGregor managed to carve a respectable Hollywood career. It took them almost two decades to put those bad feelings behind them. And it couldn't come at a better time. Boyle wanted McGregor, Ewen Bremner (Spud), Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy), and Robert Carlyle (Begbie) to age considerably, which would reflect the severe effects of cocaine (and other illegal drugs). And their looks didn't disappoint the director.
Mark returned from the continent, his marriage about to end and his career nowhere in sight. His ex-buddies didn't do any better; Simon (or Sick Boy) made a living blackmailing academicians and businessmen wanting kinky sex while Spud still struggled to kick off his drug addiction. Gail, his long-suffering partner, and Fergus, their teenage son, don't want to deal with him anymore. As for Begbie, his violent temper kept him in prison for two decades. He wanted to get even with Mark.
Boyle made frequent references to "Trainspotting", a loving tribute to what was certainly an iconic picture. But this sequel didn't retain the subversiveness of the original. Moviegoers were looking at middle-aged men, where nothing much was going for them. They were like Edinburgh's old structures, slowly deteriorating in the less-attractive parts of the city. Boyle's slick editing did a good job in promoting Edinburgh as a tourist destination, as the camera quickly panned the spectacular panorama of Scotland's hilly capital. The soundtrack, which was reminiscent of the British pop rock tunes of the 1980s, gave the main thoroughfares (of Edinburgh) a youthful vibe. There was something else.
There was a scene where Mark and Simon went to a remote pub, where a small group of middle-aged Scots gathered to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne. They were supposed to steal the debit cards of the unsuspecting victims, but the duo ended up singing about the defeat of the Catholic forces on the east coast of Ireland in 1690. The Battle of the Boyne pitted deposed King James II, a Catholic, against his nephew, William III, a Protestant. There was more at stake in this religious battle, as James had the backing of King Louis XIV of France while William had Pope Alexander VIII on his side. The King of France wanted to rule Europe, and the papacy was against it. The Prince of Orange was a sworn enemy of the French monarch. King William's win ensured that England, Scotland, and Ireland remained as Protestant domains. What did it have to do with the film?
Boyle didn't intend this scene to add historical value to a movie reminiscing about drugs (and making amends on those who were hurt along the way). Scotland had a love-hate relationship with England, so the scene would dumbfound viewers. Boyle, a native of Kent, could be making a subtle political message. It would still depend on the eyes of the beholder (or the director who rather not be transparent about it). How about Brexit having a grave effect on the future of Great Britain?
The scenes leading to the climatic scene were like traveling on a familiar route, coming to a full circle. The final scene showed Mark dancing to Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", which might suggest another sequel. The film featured Diane (Kelly Macdonald), Mark's girlfriend during their younger years. She managed to turn her back on drugs, with a legal career to be proud of. Boyle might be tempted to explore their relationship, as Mark deserved another chance for a better life. As Mark would put it, choose social media to show that you were better off than your friends (or so they thought).