“You’re a tourist in your own youth”, says Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) to Renton (Ewan McGregor), who’s returned to Edinburgh, 20 years after leaving with the stolen £16,000. Spud (Ewen Bremner), is now attempting to finally kick his heroin habit, however failing miserably and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) has been in prison for 20 years and is finally about to leave.
The film is bursting with nostalgia, particularly the soundtrack with a Prodigy remix of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life, which booms through the speakers and almost physically pushes you back into the 90’s. However, Wolf Alice’s Silk, eases you back into the present and stirs up a pot of new emotions which we now feel for the characters in 2017.
Bremner’s acting is very commendable in the sequel. He’s now living on the thirteenth floor of a run down, class A drug-infested council block, where rather amusingly, the lift doesn’t work. He attempts to combat his addiction by writing his life stories and his failed relationship with his son makes you uncomfortably emotional, as its clear he is the only character in the film with an ounce of good in him. The negative reviews have cited that T2 wallows in its own depression and focuses too much on the emptiness and loneliness of the groups souls, however that’s what I think the genius of the film centres around.
In the first film we loved the opening scene, the overdoses, the fights, pleasure and leisure, Lou Reed, the dancing, the sex, the come downs and the toilet scene. The deaths were horrifying but only momentarily. In T2, when returning to the field in the middle of nowhere to honour Tommy (Kevin McKidd), who died of HIV-related toxoplasmosis in the previous film, Sick Boy stresses that we need to just get over death, don’t let yourself get stuck in the past. Which is amusingly contradictory as everyone in the cinema including myself, was watching for the sheer joy of pretending we’re still in the past.
Danny Boyle gives a nod to a number of his earlier films, including Trance (2013) and his debut feature film Shallow Grave (1994). Boyle’s love of reflections in mirrors, windows, basically anything, feature heavily throughout T2, making you feel closer and yet further away from the characters at the same time. The snappy and fast paced editing of the film never gives the time for the viewer to get bored or uninterested and Boyle’s signature canted angles add the utter weirdness of the film. Despite it not being as good as the first, it does a very good job, incorporating scenes from it and remixing it to create something fresh and new.
If you loved the original, the chances are you’ll love the sequel. Boyle is an incredibly skilled director, Hodge and Harris create the perfect tone and pace and Anthony Dod Mantle colours every scene, combining the retro and the new. Yet again, Boyle has made a very well-crafted piece of cinema, certainly worth seeing again and again.