Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting is not only one of the most influential films of the ’90s, but one of the greatest films ever made; Boyle nailed the culture of nihilistic teen and it’s self destructive nature, delivered with fresh style and brilliant characterization. It’s always difficult following up to such a beloved classic, and after twenty years, Boyle delivers the perfect sequel. T2: Trainspotting continues the fast editing, striking visuals, and musical montages that made the original so brilliant, updating the themes for a modern context and following up with the beloved characters.
Twenty years after stealing money from a heroin sale from his best friends, Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland, reuniting with Spud (Ewen Bremmer), Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). No longer youths, the former friends are still haunted by the demons of their past, and lash out at each other as they come to grips with time. After much time has past, these actors slip effortlessly back into these roles, delivering all of the hilarious, despicable, and all too real behavior that we’ve come to expect from the gang.
Boyle doesn’t simple deliver a continuation, but puts the original in a new context, and taking it’s themes, from the youth culture to the “choose life” philosophy, and puts it into the modern context of the internet era. It’s a complete film on every level, featuring scenes as hilarious as a heist by Renton and Sick Boy that targets, as well as the dramatic heights of seeing the character coming to grips with their realities, including an incredible monologue from McGregor that sees him brilliantly return to the role that made his career. It’s a brilliant, energetic sequel that feeds on our nostalgia, while purposefully showing nostalgia’s consequences, and wrapping up the lives of these characters in brilliant fashion. Grade: A