Danny Boyle embraces nostalgia in this deeply satisfying, bittersweet sequel to a modern classic
'Nostalgia...that's why you're here…a tourist in your own youth,' So says Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), speaking to a now-reformed Renton (Ewan McGregor) in Danny Boyle's long-long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting, but he might as well be talking to us. True, it's 21 years since Irvine Welsh's Leith junkie anti-heroes were brought so vividly to the big screen, but Boyle's sequel arrives right on time – perfect for an age built of nostalgia. So is it good? Is it Archie-Gemmill-scoring-against-Holland-good? Yes it is.
Loosely borrowing from Welsh's follow-up book Porno it sees Renton return to Edinburgh from Amsterdam, two decades on from stealing from his mates. Ewen Bremner's Spud is still on smack. Robert Carlyle's incarcerated Francis Begbie has just been turned down for parole. And Sick Boy, or Simon as he prefers now, is running his aunt's knackered pub, scheming about turning it into a brothel with his Bulgarian business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).
To say too much more would spoil John Hodge's blood-pumping script, aside from revealing it wholly ditches the porn movie plot from Welsh's book. With themes of friendship and betrayal present again, resentment and guilt festers away here like an open sore. Shot by Anthony Dod Mantle, from Arthur's Seat to condemned high-rises, Edinburgh is captured in all its beauty and squalor, while Boyle and editor Jon Harris mix in footage from the original like ghosts passing through.
Everyone has their moment in the sun, though Carlyle probably shines brightest as he once again dons the 'tache of the psychotic Begbie. The soundtrack teases us with strains from the first film – Lou Reed, Underworld, Iggy Pop – combined with everything from Queen to Wolf Alice to Vera Lynn. It perhaps isn't the to-die-for jukebox from before, but how could it be? Far from destroying its predecessor's legacy, T2 builds on it with characters that are older, sadder and definitely not wiser. Heroin chic is making a comeback.
General release from Fri 27 Jan.