Viewed – 28 January 2017 Cinema
A sequel I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading. The set-twenty-years-later follow up to one of the defining, cult British movies of the nineties that seemed to not really require a sequel, but here we are presented with one anyway. I’ll admit to being intrigued by where the characters might be now, what their lives have involved over the years etc. and where things might go next for them, especially considering how the last movie ended – with Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor), having been involved in a drug deal, making off with £16,000 cash from under the nose of his so-called friends.
It’s this betrayal that the movie for the most part hangs onto, and well, Renton’s homecoming to Edinburg is not exactly met with open arms. Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) & Spud (Ewan Bremner) find themselves not really having amounted to much, and blame much of that on Renton, be it his fault or not. Also there’s the matter of the homicidal madman Francis Begbie (Robert Carlisle) to contend with, who quickly escapes from Prison and doesn’t take long to learn of Renton’s return. Let it be said, this is a very different beast to the 1996 original. That hedonistic and sleazy portrait of drug culture was filled with clever surrealism, bags of energy and iconic music in a way that made it the cool movie of the time. This isn’t really attempting any of that despite a strong reliance on nostalgia for much of it’s flavour. This is as much a snapshot of modern-day society as it is a celebration of another time. Every character seems to be stuck in a rut, hopelessly looking back and reminiscing and er…holding grudges. Carlisle steals the show for the most part, revelling in the Begbie persona that stood out so much in the first movie but hasn’t changed or developed one iota. Sad he even get’s a chance to be more than a one note psycho towards the end, but the movie chooses not to go there. With nobody having really changed, from Sick Boy’s blackmailing schemes and Spud (surprisingly the only character who goes on a ‘journey’) still being on drugs … I gradually began to wonder what the point of it all was.
There’s several exciting and funny moments with plenty of personality, a new, culturally relevant ‘choose life’ speech, and memorable music cues from The Prodigy, Wolf Alice and more … but with an overwhelming theme of middle aged men hating their lives and being trapped in the past, this ended up rather depressing. Fans of the original should definitely check this out, and it was still fun to spend time with such colourful characters again. Danny Boyle’s direction was also consistently eye-catching (if a tad trying too hard) … but despite such efforts, ultimately this fails to justify it’s existence.
Verdict: 3 /5