T2 has none of the savage bleakness of the original Trainspotting

(From left) Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle star in T2 Trainspotting.
(From left) Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle star in T2 Trainspotting.PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

Trainspotting sequel reunites the gang in Edinburgh with a rock soundtrack, fast-cutting images and flashbacks

REVIEW / COMEDY-DRAMA

T2 TRAINSPOTTING (R21)

117 minutes/Now showing/ 3 stars

The story: Two decades after the events of the first movie, the gang is reunited under desperate circumstances. The previously missing Renton (Ewan McGregor) shows up in the Edinburgh neighbourhood that is still home to Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewen Bremner). Heroin still casts a shadow over the group. The vicious Begbie (Robert Carlyle) shows up to repay the injury done to him in the first movie.

Was there another Danny Boyle movie as Boyle-ish as Trainspotting (1996)? With that work, the British director captured magic. With its sequel T2, he is out to prove that he can out-Boyle his 1990s self.

And the first 30 minutes are a total, exhilarating recall - the rock soundtrack married to fast-cutting images is Boyle at his kinetic best. Blasts of visual joy come back in spurts over the film's 117 minutes.

The thrill is not just in the chase scenes. Boyle is the master of the music montage, a master deejay in matching rock beats to dialogue and action.

When Begbie (Carlyle), who belongs in the pantheon of all-time great movie villains, goes berserk, there is a jolt to the senses.

When heroin hits the vein, Boyle shows how Brian Eno's soundscapes matched to time-and- space-melting set design might be the only way to describe the opiate experience.

There is delicious Scottish-flavoured swearing in this R21 picture. Boyle and the original movie's screenwriter John Hodge, loosely adapting Irvine Welsh's Porno, his follow-up 2002 novel to his 1993 work Trainspotting, offer casual nods to how 20 years of gentrification and Eastern European immigration have changed Scotland.

There is nothing of the savage bleakness of the original, however. The story, once it gets the gang together, runs out of ideas.

The remainder blends a caper film, "remember this?" flashbacks and gentle whining about getting older.

Quite entertaining, but as Renton observes at one point: "It's just nostalgia! You're a tourist in your own youth."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Nostalgia spotting'. Print Edition | Subscribe