First there is opportunity, then there is betrayal. This the repeated refrain of TRAINSPOTTING 2, a sequel that is not skeletal like so many sequels are.
There’s meat on the bones and dramatic marrow as well as the band get back together twenty years later to deal with old wounds and then largely fuck up all over again.
First there is opportunity to recapture the rapture of the original film, reuniting director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge, source author Irvine Welsh and most of the original cast. Then there is betrayal of the fans who count Trainspotting as a seminal film of the twilight of the Twentieth Century.
Marvellously, the opportunity is not betrayed, and T2 is a sequel among equals.
The film gets off to a sly start with ex junkie, Renton, now a gym junkie, tread-milling his way to cardio overdose.
Faced with his own mortality, he journeys back to Edinburgh for a homecoming of sorts. His mother has died, leaving his room the same as when he left it, a loco wall papered shrine to his childhood.
Paying a call on Spud, he manages to intercede in his friends suicide. On visiting Sick Boy, he is bashed with a billiard cue, his mortal coil almost snookered. Sick Boy, now known as Simon, is shacked up with a Bulgarian girl called Veronica, setting up blackmail shoots in an effort to raise money for a brothel he want to set up with Veronica as madam.
Smart boy Renton, now an accredited Amsterdam accountant, persuades Simon to legitimately defraud the system of a hundred thousand nicker to seed his start up.
Meanwhile, Begbie has escaped prison and is hell bent on revenging his grievance with Renton with grievous bodily harm.
The twenty years in real time that has passed between the first film and this one gives the production a real gravitas, a verisimilitude that fuels its vim and vigour. Real issues of ageing, personal growth, rehabilitation and reconciliation are the veritable hub of this reunion.
Ewan McGregor as the stent assisted Renton is possibly the more mature of the quad, passing into a period of divorce and redundancy. His rant about Choose Life is worth the price of admission. As is the John Barry in football boots sequence as Renton and Sickboy ramp up Barry’s brilliant 007 composition and oscillate wildly.
Johnny Lee Miller, perfectly addresses arrested development with schemes of scant research. Robert Carlyle as Begbie is an older version of the volatile volcano, seething violence and vitriol, liable to erupt and explode in a hair trigger nano second.
The real surprise is Ewen Bremner as Spud who becomes the hero of the piece. His performance is a beautifully arced journey.
Also returning from the original cast are Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson and James Cosmo as well as costume designer Rachel Fleming, and composer Rick Smith.
New recruits were drawn from the ranks of recent Boyle collaborators, including producers Christian Colson and Bernie Bellew, editor Jon Harris, designers Mark Tildesley and Patrick Rolfe, director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle and hair & make up designer Ivana Primorac.
Visually stunning, audio fantastic, TRAINSPOTTING 2 is a ticket you must ride.