Director: Danny Boyle.
Danny Boyle reunites with the cast and writers behind the first iconic Trainspotting 20 years on, for his first ever sequel. Well, it's more of a continuation, a follow-up than a sequel, like an after-care. It's apparently based loosely, not entirely on Irvine Welsh's book sequel, Porno, catching up with the characters quite some distance since the first departure.
Renton returns to Edinburgh, not having been there since running off with a large sum of cash betraying Sick Boy and Begbie. It's a daring and bold move considering how he split on him with their cut of a drug deal and we quickly see the reunion taking shape in surreal Boyle fashion.
There's a lot to say about the first one, being of a relatively low budget, it was Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor second outing after the famed Shallow Grave that kickstarted both their big screen careers. The two went on to have a respectable friendship until McGregor was knocked back for the lead role of Boyle's Beach, but that's a long gone history with Trainspotting being the iconic film of their partnership.
It's incredibly difficult to watch this film without feeling nostalgic about the first. Having watched the original on the big screen at it's release I have those key scenes etched into my memory forever. How can anyone unsee the worse toilet in scotland, Spud Vs the soiled bedsheets and Begbie's violent outrages and throwing that glass tankard. The taboo of underage sex and pellet gun shooting at the park. All screened with a brilliant soundtrack that was independently successful with tracks from Iggy Pop, Bedrock and of course Underworld's groundbreaking track, Born Slippy. (Myself owning that single on vinyl and wearing a Born Slippy tee) I'll come back to the soundtrack later. The original film, as a whole was totally unique in every way, even the promotional posters was something of genius.
Understanding Boyle likes to do things differently with each film he does, I wonder how much of that was a challenge for him, this being his first sequel, putting himself in the sights of his fans, having to think about a level of expectation he would not normally be accustomed to. Possibly the very same reason some director's steer clear of doing sequels in fear of tarnishing their original work.
What Boyle does deliver is his usual surreal style and his creative-angle camera shots, though a couple appearing to come off cheaply. I enjoyed some of key scenes like the club toilet reunion, chase sequences and Renton's original bedroom, all nods to the original piece.
The script is brilliant, especially the paraphrased 'choose life' monologue Renton poetically blurts out but the film as a whole seems to lack the narrative the first one had. It's still there but seems to make way for more story and Spud's scribing.
The performances are spot on with the original cast slipping straight back into their roles and though twenty years have passed, it appears nothing much has changed beneath the skin. It the reconciliation between them all that fuels the fire, but I then forget why Renton returns, to right the wrongs he left behind.
The soundtrack is unfortunately, very much like the film as whole, a watered down version with only teases of a great album. Whilst the viewers of first were urged to buy it's soundtrack, and possibly volume two, this soundtrack does not. And should you dare stream the album your ears will be met with rehashed eighties classics that sound like they have come from a departments store's background music.
It's impossible to watch this film without wanting to feel nostalgia (unless you watch this without watching the first) and whilst in parts, it feels like a retro flashback to the original, it doesn't quite reach the platform.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 10
Job Description: 5
The Extra Bonus Point: 0