“Choose watching history repeat itself,” says Renton, updating his “Choose life” mantra, but if Trainspotting was the high, T2 is all about dealing with the comedown.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Twenty years after stealing their enormous drug deal earnings and abandoning his gang in Edinburgh, Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns home from an extended stay in Amsterdam. He reunites with his old friends Simon “Sick Boy” (Jonny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewen Bremner), who are initially contemptuous for his betrayal, but Renton convinces the trio to go into business together. They agree, though the still-scorned Simon secretly plots his revenge against Renton. Meanwhile, the psychopathic Begbie (Robert Carlyle) escapes from the prison he’s spent the last two decades in thanks to Renton, and learns of his return to Edinburgh…
Busy schedules, a very public feud between director and star, and the general fear of not doing the original justice have held back a sequel to Danny Boyle’s breakout classic Trainspotting for two long decades, but at long last the highly anticipated T2 Trainspotting is here. And unlike most belated sequels to beloved films that are better off left alone, T2 does the best you can ask of something of its type – it honours the original, while providing closure and standing on its own feet as a good film; even if it can’t quite reach the greatness of its begetter.
This isn’t a drug film, or a film about youthful thrills, spills and chills like the first. This is a film about the long-term consequences of all of that; how all the decisions of a drug and crime-fuelled early adulthood come back to bite in middle age. It’s an all-too-real look at facing the music that knowingly holds a mirror up to its audience to make you think “What the fuck have I done with my life?”
Our characters spend a sombre period coming to grips with this, but soon enough the boys agree it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. That’s when things kick into gear and T2 becomes a rollicking good time. Renton and Simon’s friendship/rivalry forms the core of this story, with betrayal constantly hanging over the pair like a cloud.
Bremner is sadly not given much to evolve Spud beyond his lovable idiot routine. Carlyle, on the other hand, is the stand out; his batshit insane Begbie is even more terrifying this time as he hunts Renton with murder in his eyes, yet shows a vulnerability around his family that actually makes you feel for the guy.
There’s an even mix of old and new music on the updated soundtrack, and remixes of both that sum up how T2 feels. It never forgets its beloved roots, but it’s surprising, thrilling, and unexpectedly becomes something funny and fresh on its own. If not entirely necessary or quite as good as Trainspotting, it’ll make you more than happy enough to choose life again.
T2 Trainspotting is available in Australian cinemas from February 23rd
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures