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T2 TRAINSPOTTING Choose life…again

Trainspotting-2

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner
Director: Danny Boyle

9/10

Just over 20 years later, the Trainspotting boys are back in one of the best reboots of our time. The heroin addicts Mark, Spud, and Simon/Sickboy, along with the unpredictably manic Begbie, are shown to have done a little growing up (just a little) as they are now approaching middle age and must deal with the malaise of the modern age. Rest assured, T2 Trainspotting isn’t so much a nostalgic film, but a clever and sometimes poignant criticism of nostalgia. As Sickboy claims in this film, it just makes you a tourist in your own past.

Mark (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh and decides to meet up with old pals, a risky move given how they parted ways at the end of the original film. He meets up with his most reliable old friend, Spud (Ewen Bremner), before trying to reconcile with Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller) and, after a fight or two, they band together to create a “leisure club” so that they can finally have some non-criminal income. Unluckily for them (especially Mark), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has escaped from prison and is out for revenge on Mark.

Although the subject matter of heroin has now been expunged from the characters’ lives, the theme of friendship is still as alive and well with these four volatile individuals. The relation between each of them is different, though it’s the one between Mark and Begbie that is the most hostile and provides the film’s more intense and high-octane moments. But Mark’s friendship with Spud and Sickboy seems to be more fruitful, leading to the majority of the film’s throwbacks to the original 1996 film; though the references are far from corny or cringey, and they show a maturity that has taken place in the characters – Mark’s new rendition of the “choose life” speech no longer contains the stoic nihilism of the heroin addict 20-something year old, but now drips with desperation and regret as he realises through his ailing health he is certainly approaching death.

With the familiar cast back, along with stylish director Danny Boyle and virtuosic screenwriter John Hodges, T2 Trainspotting 2 proves it’s of the same essence as the original, with an update on the dizzying style of directing, cinematography, and editing that makes this an even more exhilarating rush than the original film. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as good, as it perhaps hasn’t quite captured the zeitgeist in the same way, but for a sequel this many years later to be as close to the quality of the original is a rarity worth seeing.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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