Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Kelly Macdonald
Written by: John Hodge, based on novels by Irvine Welsh
Directed by: Danny Boyle
MPAA Rating: R for drug use, language throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity and some violence
Running Time: 117
Date: 03/17/2017

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Choose Life Again

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Danny Boyle's appealing sequel, arriving twenty years after his groundbreaking original, maintains an energetic visual flair as well as confronting, rather than ignoring, the passage of time.

In T2 Trainspotting, twenty years have passed since the events of Trainspotting (1996). After living abroad in Amsterdam, Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to return home to Edinburgh. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still addicted to heroin, and though he has tried to kick, he has lost his job and his family and tries to kill himself. Renton arrives just in time to stop him.

He also reconnects with "Sick Boy" (a.k.a. Simon) (Jonny Lee Miller), who now owns a pub, is a regular cocaine user, and is still angry at Renton for stealing his share of the money two decades earlier. Nonetheless, Simon invites Renton to join in on his plan to build a strip club, hoping to exact his revenge somewhere down the line. Meanwhile, the violent, volatile Begbie (Robert Carlyle) escapes from prison, and he's really angry at Renton.

Boyle's original Trainspotting exploded on the scene with incredible electricity, pulsing music, and powerful, often harrowing visuals, and, like Pulp Fiction, it felt as if it could change the world. T2 Trainspotting manages to establish that that youthful exuberance can't last forever, but that, even as reality sets in, life doesn't stop either. ("Choose life.")

The characters still have a fascinating chemistry, now working because of history rather than energy. Boyle's smart choice of music includes new remixes of some of the original's classic tunes (like the iconic "Born Slippy"). The new film includes many choice flashbacks, as well as modern mirror images of the original, but also cleverly acknowledges the trappings of nostalgia.

On the downside, the screenplay contains a particularly sloppy plot hole, and the women (Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald) are relegated to small roles, but striking newcomer Anjela Nedyalkova holds her own against the lads as Simon's sort-of girlfriend Veronika.

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