T2 Trainspotting is similar to that old friend from school that you didn’t know you missed hanging out with until you run into them at the high school reunion. The sequel to the heroin induced hit from 1996, T2 sees the gang back together with John Hodge returning to write the screenplay and Danny Boyle behind the camera directing. McGregor, Bremner, Miller, and Carlyle all seamlessly fall back into their iconic roles 20+ years later. Though the original stands on its own, the sequel does a brilliant job reminding the viewers why you initially loved the characters. Adding more depth to the characters, we sympathize for them and understand their own personal motivations.
Self-referential, T2 uses the same music as the first while adding flashbacks and echoes throughout the film as a way to enhance the nostalgia. The film works as the ultimate fan service sequel, providing the audience with references from the first while still establishing a compelling new story on its own. Despite not being as obscene as the original, Trainspotting 2 manages to wrangle together some great moments of comedy and some moments of heart between each other.
One of the visionaries working today, every shot of Danny Boyle’s is as unique as the last one. A runtime of 117 minutes, T2 never drags and features a variety of outrageous set pieces. Boyle clearly had fun making this film, paying homage to his first big hit while giving the sequel its own identity. Often building up scenes where we know the end result but are still left holding in our breath while admiring the composition.
Each of the four leads offer nuances that weren’t seen in the first, men that are vulnerable and clearly haven’t learned their lesson in 20 years. Ewan McGregor plays the dejected Renton who returns to Edinburgh hoping to find a purpose in his life. Delivering a monologue on the origin of the famous “Choose Life” line, the older Renton is more charming and humble as he tries to heal old wounds. Ewen Bremner’s Spud is still the same Spud but ends up with the biggest arc as he completes a life altering transformation throughout the film.
Jonny Lee Miller’s Sick Boy, or Simon as he likes to be called now, is still swindling his way through life. The scenes between McGregor and Miller range from poignant to downright ridiculous, regardless the two of them were meant to be reunited. Robert Carlyle returns as the hotheaded Begbie who is out for revenge when he finds out that Renton is back in Edinburgh. Carlyle delivers some of the best comedic moments from the film including a callback to an iconic scene from the original.
T2 Trainspotting is a riot start to finish, offering a fresh look at familiar faces. Though some will argue that the sequel is unnecessary, T2 only expands on the greatness of the original. Not harming the source material but instead elevating it. 20 years later, the characters are still as compelling and naïve as before. Boyle and the four leads understand the property and do a remarkable job of not tainting the ’96 Trainspotting. T2 Trainspotting features quality performances, a memorable soundtrack, and mesmerizing direction from Danny Boyle.