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T2 Trainspotting


Stars: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Director: Danny Boyle

I must confess to not being totally smitten with Danny Boyle's original, iconic movie about worthless Scottish heroin addicts. But today's Boyle is a much more confident filmmaker, and, second time round, he delivers a terrific '20 years after' package with a clear storyline and satisfying if deeply ironic ending.

Cunningly crafted, the film, garishly lit in Technicolor, is part scabrous comedy and part suspense thriller, as the violent psycho Begbie (Carlyle) breaks out of prison - getting himself stabbed by a fellow inmate so as to be taken to hospital - and sets out for revenge on Renton (McGregor), who had hi-tailed it out of England with the £16,000 ill-gotten gains of fellow-junkies Begbie, Sickboy (Miller) and the hapless Spud (Bremner).

Coincidentally, at the same time Renton arrives back in Edinburgh from Holland, and looks up Sickboy, who is running his late dad's pub. and would be on the brink of bankruptcy were it not for drug deals and a 'sex slave' blackmail racket with his current partner Veronika (Nadyalkova).

Renton, who has nothing to go back to in Holland, is soon involved in Sickboy's schemes for a glorified brothel on the premises: one of the best sequences has the two of them stealing credit cards at a Protestants-only hootenanny, but being dragooned into being part of the entertainment before they can skip the joint.

Though the film has lots of the expected 18-certificate elements, there's some perceptive dialogue too - 'You're a tourist in your own youth' Sickboy tells Renton - and clever use of visuals: Renton's shadow at his father's dinner table takes the place of his deceased mother.

Aggressive eye-catching performances all round, but especially from Carlyle and the moon-faced Bremner, another shadow playing a part in his character's attempts to kick a 20-year drug habit. Original co-star Macdonald is in for one scene, showing that Diane has become a busy - and high-paid - lawyer. T3? It's a possibility, presumably with the crazed Begbie careering around in a souped-up wheelchair.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: Sony (TriStar). Technicolor.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 24 Jan 2017