This sequel to the 1996 British drug-fuelled comedy-drama probably won’t be tagged with the same culturally iconic status of the original – but it still keeps the Trainspotting legacy on a high.
This worthy follow up from Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle – who after following Trainspotting with his breakthrough film Shallow Grave has gone on to successfully direct the likes of The Beach, 28 Days Later and 127 Hours – reunites the surviving original cast twenty years later.
After fleeing to Amsterdam with the majority of the cash after double-crossing his pals at the end of the first film, Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to find his father (Braveheart’s James Cosmo) living alone after the death of his mother.
Daniel ‘Spud’ Murphy (Ewen Bremner) is estranged from his wife and son after failing to kick his heroine habit, Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) continues to live life as a hooked-on-cocaine conman alongside his Bulgarian girlfriend Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova), while Francis ‘Franco’ Begbie plots his escape from prison after failing with another parole attempt due to his violent temper.
To the backdrop of another deliciously eclectic soundtrack – which features a mellower version of Underworld’s Born Slippy entitled ‘Slow Slippy’ and a Prodigy remix of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life alongside the likes of Blondie, Run DMC, The Clash and Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Boyle’s drama is generally centred around Renton’s altercations with his three pals/ex-pals.
After an intense bar fight ‘reconnection’ between Sick Boy and Renton, they both agree to form a partnership to open a brothel under the pretence of a leisure club at the failing pub bequeathed to Sick Boy by his Aunt. But unbeknown to Renton, Begbie has fled the arms of the law and paid Sick Boy a visit – who collaborates with his psychopathic former buddy to exact revenge on Renton for his betrayal twenty years earlier.
Various sub-plots are interspersed among the main story bed, including Renton attempting to get Spud’s life back on track, Begbie’s interaction with his son who wants to go to college instead of following his father’s path, an underlying love triangle between Renton/Sick Boy/Veronika, and even a cameo from Kelly MacDonald’s Diane – Renton’s super cute love interest from the original – as a city lawyer.
It might not quite be as nuanced – and definitely not as drug dependant – as the first film, with a slightly more commercially accessible and less grittier feel (you don’t really need to have seen the 1996 movie to get the most out of this), but with some sensationally choreographed flashbacks from the original brilliantly integrated into the plot, it still contains the heartbeat of Trainspotting which still makes it a joy to watch – complete with some of the more coarse language you’ll hear on screen this year.
It’s pay-off might be a tad predictable (and a touch underwhelming), but for the most part this is an addictive take on elements of both Irvine Welsh’s acclaimed Porno and Trainspotting novels, that can be enjoyed by fans and newbies alike.
At the very least it’s an eye-opener to us thirty/forty-somethings who may have wondered (like the characters in the film) what we would have done differently if we’d had our time over again – and just where those last twenty years have gone.
Cast: Ewan Mcgregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, James Cosmo, Scot Greenan, Pauline Turner, Kyle Fitzpatrick, Steven Robertson, Katie Leung, Irvine Welsh, Kevin Mckidd & Kelly Macdonald
Running Time: 1 Hr 57 Mins
Director: Danny Boyle
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