"Transpotting" sequel explores the passage of time beautifully
A line delivered by Francis Begbie two decades after the events of “Trainspotting” perfectly illustrates the way this sequel could have gone wrong: “Nostalgia. You're a tourist in your own youth.”
Fortunately, all of the primary talents are around for “T2: Trainspotting” (a title that would have surely caused confusion at video rental stores, speaking of nostalgia). It's a worthy sequel that doesn't try to just mimic the manic energy of the first, because, hey, we're all getting older.
All of the central characters who survived the original are back. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is working a boring corporate job when a medical emergency has him contemplating the life he left. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is still in prison, and when he's again denied parole, he decides to do something about it.
Simon (aka Sick Boy, played by Jonny Lee Miller) has traded heroin for a coke habit and is plotting schemes outside of the law. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is the worst off of the lot, having returned to a smack habit (“The only friend who never left us”) following some bad breaks in life.
Inevitably, the former friends cross paths again, but the specter of Renton's betrayal at the end of the first film looms large.
Director Danny Boyle returns to the film that launched his career, bringing the added skills he's developed in films that have since made him an Oscar winner. He's working from a script by original “Trainspotting” scribe John Hodge based very loosely on Irvine Welsh's novel “Porno.”
Boyle effectively pays homage to the original “Trainspotting” throughout, from nods to the iconic soundtrack to character callbacks that are more easily recognized if you've viewed the original recently. “T2” has wild bursts that feel right at home with the first film, but it's also got more solemn moments that reflect on growing old. Spud's transformation is especially poignant.
Going in expecting more of the same is likely a recipe for at least mild disappointment — like seeing an aging singer perform the angst-ridden anthems of their younger days.
But the resulting movie also feels more necessary than just nostalgic. The performances of the cast reflect actors looking back on their own pasts. This movie needed two decades to grow into what it is, which is a worthy sequel to a modern classic.