Choose Life: The Trainspotting Sequel is a Textbook for How Sequels Should Be Done


Sequels, sequels everywhere. Sequels, sequels if they dare. Sequels, sequels, sequels, sequels, sequels…

There’s no mistaking that we live in the golden days of big-screen sequels, remakes, and reboots, but more often than not, the sequel, remake, or reboot is a nearly unbearable rehash of an original property that was once beloved by all. There are exceptions to this of course especially when it comes to saga stories like Star Wars or collected universes like the MCU. There are even some good sequels to otherwise standalone properties, but what’s truly rare is a sequel that comes along and slaps us in the face reminding us that truly good and meaningful stories can exist even if they happen to exist in a world that we’ve previously seen. This is where Danny Boyle and his newest Trainspotting installment come out swinging.

One of the things I found particularly interesting about T2: Trainspotting, is the fact that I was at exactly the right age when the original movie dropped to enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed and the same can be said for this one. It’s as though it aged and matured right along with me, yet it carries a similar message about the monotonies of life and the unknown realities when it comes to moving forward. It’s just refined its delivery.

It’s not a movie that drowns itself in needless nostalgia. In fact, it pokes fun at the idea. It doesn’t hold on to the past (except when it needs to), but it instead embarks on a new future with the same kind of “fuck-all” mentality. While heroin is no long the throughline, the maturation of addiction is. Some characters find themselves stuck in their old ways, while others have discovered entirely new vices. Even still you’re constantly compelled to see what twists and turns the story unfolds.

There are moments of extreme relevancy, particularly when it comes to the film’s portrayal of the rise in rampant nationalism, but instead of getting preachy and fixating on a topic that we’ve become all too familiar with, the film pokes light at it resulting in a scene that will bring you to tears with laughter.

The films reprising leads all knock their performances out of the ballpark. Ewen McGregor and Johnny Lee Miller are as charming as ever, while Ewen Bremner’s, Spud, is endearing and sympathetic as ever. Robert Carlyle is hilariously horrifying and dangerous and he gets a “here’s Johnny” moment that’s a near perfect callback to The Shining. All of these things come together in a way that creates the kind of chaotic “coming of age” masterpiece that you’d expect, only the characters are all in their mid 40’s.

At times the film goes a tattle overboard with some of its digital effects, however, at others they’re perfectly timed and deliver a stylistic bump in pacing. There are shots that deliver subtle eerie qualities to scenes that might go unnoticed by many as they’re primarily seen in the background or in weirdly placed shadows, but help set a near perfect tone for the film.

By and large, this is a near perfect sequel and if you were at all a fan of the original Trainspotting, this is definitely a must see and it’s the kind of movie that others movies might do well to take a few lessons from.


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