Wednesday, 22 February 2017


Sony Pictures

"Nostalgia!" one character says accusingly to another at one point in T2 Trainspotting. "You're a tourist in your youth." And that may very well sum up the reason for the existence of Danny Boyle's latest film, an intermittently entertaining but wholly unnecessary sequel to his 1996 breakthrough.

Like that film, which launched Boyle's filmmaking career, as well as that of leading man Ewan McGregor, T2 is an adaptation (again by John Hodge) of an Irvine Welsh novel (Porno). But this long-time-coming, though hardly highly-anticipated sequel only has flashes of both Boyle and Welsh's differing forms of brilliance.

Then again, maybe it's just too hard to shock and awe audiences in the 21st century? Trainspotting certainly had its share of memorable scenes of drug-induced horror and debauchery, and T2 is not without some squirm inducing violence, occasional vomit, and, of course, drug usage. But the emphasis this time around isn't on Edinburgh lowlifes looking for the next big high, rather a reconciling of the past and coming to terms with middle age.

Not that Mark Renton (McGregor) has aged badly. Having scarpered to Amsterdam to start life anew with the loot he stole along with Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) at the end of Trainspotting -- double-crossing and abandoning his friends in the process -- Mark has returned to Edinburgh to make amends. Or is he hoping to pick up where he left off all those years ago?

He's just in time to save Spud, the most vulnerable of the group, from a heroin-induced suicide but he may soon regret reacquainting himself with one-time BFF Sickboy, or Simon as he now prefers to be called. Simon, who has switched smack for coke, has aspirations of being a brothel operator, if only to keep his Bulgarian beauty Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova) from leaving him, and he sees Mark as the perfect business partner and foil.

And then there's Begbie. The psychopath with a penchant for punching on has been incarcerated for most of the previous 20 years but as luck would have it, he masters a prison escape just as Mark returns. And if he wasn't already dangerous enough, Begbie's had two decades to plan his brutal revenge against the man who screwed him over.

Yep, the gangs all here. And while there's a couple of other ghosts from the past (Trainspotting alums Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald making token appearances), this is very much a boy's own misadventure; Boyle and his principal cast getting back together for one more (last?) hurrah.

But just as you can't live in the past, and you can never really go home again, T2 Trainspotting relies too heavily on nostalgia for the first film to feel fully alive or its own creation. No matter how much energy and visual flair Boyle and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle deploy, nor how game the quartet of actors are for reprising shithead shenanigans, T2 just doesn't provide the same buzz.

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