Thursday, April 6, 2017

[Review] T2 Trainspotting

It's been 20 years since Danny Boyle's stylized junkie portrait Trainspotting hit the scene, eventually solidifying itself as a British indie cult-classic. And while I don't think it screamed for a sequel, this year's T2 Trainspotting is a rare long-after revisit that manages to feel natural. It feels right.

Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, and Ewen Bremner all reprise their roles as Renton, Sickboy, Begbie, and Spud. The plot sees Renton returning to Edinburgh and he learns that things have changed but old wounds, drugs, and crime still linger in each of their frail lives. What ensues is a meandering entanglement between wild pasts, unstable presents, and uncertain futures.

By nature, this one isn't quite as frantic and trippy and bold as its predecessor, but Boyle isn't working in that frame this time around. Instead, he casts a more poignant and character-driven angle. But of course the punchy visual scuzz is still there, as well as the energetic, well-picked soundtrack--from The Clash to Blondie to the "Lust for Life" callbacks. The intensely detailed editing is injected with stirring flashbacks and apt pop culture references. There's a particularly sweet and humorous scene where Spud--the film's most troubled but most sympathetic character--heads to a boxing gym and envisions himself in the ring as De Niro during the iconic Raging Bull opening.

Fittingly, T2 Trainspotting is all about pain, vengeance, recklessness, reflection, aging, and redemption. Thanks to Boyle's careful craft and the cast's dedicated performances, the film nails some surprisingly emotional notes that make the duration worthwhile. The trance-y pacing, scattered plot, and hefty baggage can definitely be exhausting and feel a bit overlong, but if it wasn't that way, it probably wouldn't be a proper Trainspotting movie now, would it?

( 8/10 )

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