T2 Trainspotting (2017)

(On Cable TV, October 2017) I didn’t have very high expectations for T2 Trainspotting. While I liked the first movie, it’s not one of my favourites. The idea of revisiting the same characters twenty years later didn’t seem all that appealing, and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to go back to drug-addled Edinburgh for two hours. But, as the mantra goes, trust Danny Boyle. Boyle’s worst movies are more interesting than most directors’ best, and if he was interested in going back twenty years later, then why not? As it turns out, it doesn’t take a long time for T2 Trainspotting to announce its themes and grab our attention. Twenty years later, our characters have grown older but not necessarily better. They still struggle, albeit now with the added pressures of middle-age weighing on them. Some of them are miraculously still alive. All four main actors are back in their roles, although Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller get the most challenging assignments in taking on two characters with many issues to resolve. But the film’s best asset is indeed in going back twenty years later to the same places, knowing that it can’t recapture the magic of the original, knowing that life gets less forgiving the more you age, and contemplating youthful excess with something approaching burgeoning wisdom, or at least melancholy. T2 Trainspotting doesn’t forget to have a bit of fun through comic set-pieces, character reunions and action sequences, but it’s at its best when it’s looking around itself and wondering how its characters made it through twenty years. It’s self-aware in ways that most long-delayed sequels should be, acknowledging the passage of time and using it as a central thematic engine. It’s surprisingly enjoyable, but also surprisingly engaging.

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