T2 Trainspotting is a powerful but complicated film. On one hand it continues the story of Renton and his crew with a natural progression of both character and tone, capturing the essence of true nostalgia as both we, and the characters, are trapped in the first films events. On the other hand, this very nostalgia threatens to minimise the audience for this new feature, making it difficult to enjoy if you don’t have a passion for the original masterpiece. The film is more an extended epilogue than an actual feature.
While the first Trainspotting was told purely through the eyes of Renton, this film chooses to focus on each of the group separately and slowly bring them together as they begin to mend their broken friendship. While giving the film a sometimes fractured feel, this tactic does work in fleshing out all the characters and giving them each a drive lacking in the original. This is particularly true of Spud who is given a redemption and focus that makes him arguably the protagonist over the often selfish Renton. The focus too has changed from heroin addiction to simply self-destructive behaviour; they continue to flee from the pull of normal society but with age their methods have changed and their youthful rebellion has turned to a matured apathy.
Intertwined with the original film, T2 revisits specific scenes and compliments them with an awareness that accurately capture the sensation of memory. Each iconic moment is looked upon with a melancholy that will touch the hearts of those who grew up with the film. However, this very thing that makes the film wonderful is also its greatest flaw; caught so much in the past it never truly stands on its own and will only ever be a companion piece to the original. Without an already strong investment in the lives of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie, the film is nothing.
Director Danny Boyle continues to show a flair for visual and masterfully blends serious subject matter with surreal visuals of such beauty that your eye is never uninterested. So many scenes drip with a stunning neon glow that gives the mundane a mesmerising quality and sucks you into the filmic world instantly; even more so as these sparks of surrealism no longer come from the end of a needle but the characters own spiralling sanity.
Strong in character and visuals, T2 Trainspotting is a brilliant follow up that brings the iconic cast full circle, taking a realistic approach to what life would be like for them 20 years later rather than being a simple re-tread of the original. While incredible, the focus on the past and memory also keeps it rooted firmly in nostalgia and stops it from becoming iconic in its own right.