So, two decades after the film that defined the 1990s burst onto our screens with all its brazen, life-affirming attitude, director Danny Boyle and his original cast revisit the lives of Renton, Sickboy, Spud and Begbie.
In fact, the 21 years that have passed enrich the narrative because the characters have all experienced different levels of success and failure, hurt and humiliation, which makes them much more interesting. However, it also poses problems with the structure of the early scenes which are quite fractured as Boyle has to fit all the different pieces together.
While Renton (Ewan McGregor) has been living in exile in Amsterdam, Spud (Ewen Bremner) has been battling unsuccessfully with drug addiction, Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is incarcerated in jail and Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller) is still a two-bit pimp, although now living with the rather lovely sex worker Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova – a very welcome addition to the otherwise all-male cast).
When ill-health forces Renton back to Edinburgh he knows there are going to be some awkward reunions and some dangerous situations. And so it proves to be as the friends (and enemies) get reacquainted on the streets where they misspent their youth.
Twenty years is a long time and this could all become one long nostalgia-fest with everyone still living in their inglorious past. But in one pivotal scene, while talking to Veronika, Renton updates his famous ‘choose life’ speech to incorporate all that has happened in between. For those of us who actually watched the original all those years ago it’s a pretty ‘wow’ moment as you realise just how much has changed – yet also how much has stayed the same. Renton’s still a chancer, Sickboy would still sell his granny for drugs, Spud is still a junkie and Begbie will always be a psychopath.
It’s to Danny Boyle’s credit that the film seems fresh and the blacker-than-black humour of writer Irvine Welsh still shines through. It all trips along at a nice pace and although the soundtrack and ultimately the film itself can’t reach the giddy heights of the original there’s a lot to enjoy here.
So choose life. Choose T2 Trainspotting and watch out for Boyle’s rather dazzling final scene.