"T2 Trainspotting" is a film that understands that the toughest part about getting older is that, with each passing day, your future gets smaller as your past exponentially grows. This translates heavily into the present, where people often find themselves preoccupied and trapped between the aches of yesterday and the anxieties of tomorrow. The film asks: How do we deal with the present when the past hurts too much and the future feels hopeless?
There are, of course, options. Drugs. Alcohol. Money. Materials. The vanities of social media. In the film's best monologue, where Ewan McGregor's Mark delivers a passionate riff on the '80s anti-drug campaign slogan "Choose Life," the movie seems to suggest that without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we'd probably have a lot more heroin addicts out there.
We're all addicted to something in one way or another, and this certainly hasn't changed for the main quartet of characters from Danny Boyle's 1996 film "Trainspotting." While they may not be youthful rebels strung out on smack anymore, Mark (McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) haven't changed too much. For hardcore fans of the original, it will likely feel like these characters have never left. For others, such as this critic, who may have seen the original film nearly a decade ago with fuzzy memories of its specifics, this 20-years-later sequel offers up an unexpected boost of recollection.
After some time with these characters, I began recalling more and more memories of my first encounter with them. That's where, I feel, the true strength of "T2 Trainspotting" lies. It's a sequel that certainly succumbs to fan service, but never topples over because of this. It keeps its footing firm as a standalone film, and in many ways it is just as fine a picture as its decades-old predecessor.
In many ways, it's more profound. The film's analysis of time's torturous tempo reveals a deft understanding of how much we change yet stay the same after months, years or even decades. The editing blends in quick-cut memory flashes that feel both graceful and ghostly passengers of the psyche that prove that while we may not with the past, the past certainly hasn't finished with us.