A sequel over 20 years after the previous one has almost never worked out. Those films didn’t have Danny Boyle.
T2 Trainspotting (2017) is a drama and long-gestating sequel to Trainspotting (1996), both directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). It once again stars Ewan McGregor as Renton, who 20 years after stabbing his friends in the back decides to return to Edinburgh to make amends.
Debate still rages over whether a sequel to this cult-classic is necessary, but if there’s an argument to make for it, this movie makes it. Not only does it feel like a natural and interesting progression of the story, the entire cast and creative team has reunited to tell it… and that passion shows. While it doesn’t quite feel as fresh as it did in the original, the energy and innovative style has returned along with Boyle, who has proved time and again with every film from Steve Jobs to Slumdog Millionaire that is a dependable director. He may not reach as far as he did 21 years ago in T2, but the plot and thematic elements presented in this second journey are still worth taking a drug trip for.
Along with the same director comes the core members of the original cast. Each of them clearly have a fantastic handle over how their characters have developed (or in some cases, haven’t developed) over 20 years of life – Spud (Ewen Bremner) is now desperately grappling to a normal life with little success, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) may be more ambitious but no more responsible, Begbie (Robert Carlyle) hasn’t been changed at all by two decades in prison and finally Renton (Ewan McGregor) at the crux of everything has returned to recompense after a failed life in Amsterdam. The chemistry and vigour between these four cast members is still here twenty years later, and while they may not eclipse what’s come before, it certainly does not lessen it.
Its ironic that T2 is so obsessed with the notion of legacy. Each and every element is bound to be compared and measured against the original cult classic and there’s nothing this pseudo-necessary sequel can do to change that. While it may not reach those same energised and memorable heights of Trainspotting, T2 still stands on its own (albeit similar) merits as an effective companion piece and proves that long-overdue sequels can succeed – if the right people return.
General Audience: Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended
Cultists: Highly Recommended