Scotland’s lost boys return to the big screen in this entertaining sequel to the original 1996 classic and director, Danny Boyle ploughs the same fertile ground that kickstarted his career along with the original cast whose lives were changed forever after the success of the first film, unlike those of their onscreen characters.
Boyle does a wonderful job of making the seedy adventures of these lecherous druggies come to life. Whether that involves the viewer being invited into run down housing estates, dodgy drug dens or overcrowded nightclubs, each setting provides the ideal backdrop to revisit the adventures of four wayward sons who have devolved into middle-aged losers.
The energetic soundtrack, as always with any Danny Boyle film, is an absolute cracker; drawing the right amount of emotion to match the visuals, which themselves run the gamut of rich colours, dramatic angles and surreal scenes.
There are moments of genuine poignancy as Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sickboy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) reflect upon what their lives have amounted to in the 20 years since we last saw them on screen. Many of those memories are conjured up when moments in the present mirror the past and this is cleverly executed throughout the film via the use of flashbacks and the subtle injection of familiar songs such as the reworked version of Underworld’s, Born Slippy, a track synonymous with the success of the first film. However, this time the song is slowed down in such a way that it will surely tug on the heartstrings of fans who remember it.
And it’s this fond sense of respect for the past that helps us care about the future of the central characters. After nicking off with everyone’s drug money at the end of the original movie, Renton has lost his way in an increasingly superficial society so he returns home to Edinburgh only to discover that most of the people and places he left behind have changed, although his former friends are still the same.
He tracks down Spud who is so down and out that he’s on the verge of killing himself. Meanwhile, Sickboy is struggling in the blackmail business. Together the three of them formulate another cunning plan to solve their problems but they don’t count on the return of their psycho buddy, Begbie who is preparing to make his escape from prison in order to exact his revenge on Renton and the others for taking his share of their illegitimate gains.
First there’s an opportunity, then there’s a betrayal is the mantra for the film. How we learn to care about these unlikely lads is all down to some empathetic writing and witty dialogue. There are constant reminders of how the world has changed with the passage of time. Closed circuit cameras, internet, mobile phones, snapchat, messaging. We even get an updated recital of Renton’s famous Choose Life manifesto that shines a light on the mind-numbing shite that currently plagues our everyday existence.
All in all, this film is not a patch on the first but serves as a fitting follow up to the iconic nineties original and a welcome return to a world of dysfunctional, relationship paranoia.
Rating: 3.5 / 5