By Ian Morton
Both a nostalgic look back and a standalone story, Trainspotting 2 is a fresh combination that injects you will just enough, you will be itching for more!
After escaping to Amsterdam, Renton (Ewan McGregor) ventures back to Edinburgh after having a mid life health scare. Having to face a world he left behind, its not long before he finds himself diving head first into the same antics he left behind 20 years ago.
Back in 1996, Danny Boyle was just managing to find his feet within the world of feature films. Having found success with ‘Shallow Grave’ only a couple of years previous, a gritty and modernist adaptation of Trainspotting not only cemented a decent career for the young film maker but also became the most successful British film of the year. Paying homage to where he came from, Danny Boyle has done what many fear by stepping back into the world that made him with the end result being a respectful continuation rather than the money-grabbing overdose many assumed it would be.
As a sequel goes, Boyle is clearly much older and wiser when it comes to the creative process. While we get a glimpse at what made the original great, the follow up has a much more adult feel. This ‘coming of age’ can be felt both visually and in its general tone as the psychedelic cinematography has been replaced with modern camera techniques and the crazy, music led approach has been shot in the ass with drama and motive. This change in direction may seem slightly detrimental to what made the original great but overall, it adds a dimension to both characters and plot that make it feel like you’re getting a genuine sequel rather than a rehashed ‘rebootquel’ we currently see too many of.
While at the times some the subplots feel unexplored and really not thought through, once it finds its footing, there’s no stopping it reaching its destination. Much like its direction, the story takes a more mature view of the source material. While the characters remain true to their youthful counterparts, time has taken its toll, lending to a narrative steeped in nostalgia but at the same time confident enough to tread new ground. This careful balancing act between new and old is presented in tandem rather than at odds, giving the audience not only something new to peak their interest but also some loving throwbacks to a film many associate with their own youth.
Wrapping things up nicely are the ever reliable performances from the main cast. Dedicated to the cause, Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Ewen Bremner clearly enjoy bringing their characters back to life, easily fitting back into the roles they left behind many years ago. With each given their moment, the result leaves you pleasantly updated on the lives of our anti-heroes after such a long hiatus.
In some cases the undeveloped subplots would be enough to turn a sequel into a failure but thankfully Trainspotting 2 understands its weaknesses and distracts you from its downfalls rather than justify them. Adopting a more mature tone helps the story immensely, giving you the sense that the world has evolved while throwing as much nostalgia at you as it can. 4 out of 5 stars.
Still catching up on that bucket list of movies from 2016? Check out what we thought of the years movies with out top 10’s: