After a wait of two decades, ‘Trainspotting’ fans are finally getting what they’ve always wanted, with the release of sequel ‘T2 Trainspotting’ now looming.
The reviews for Danny Boyle’s follow-up have now been released, and they range from overwhelmingly positive to lukewarm, though even the most negative criticisms of ‘T2’ seem to be that it fails to be as impactful as the original, rather than falling short in performances or direction.
Here’s what the critics had to say...
The Guardian - 4/5
“Reuniting the cast of ‘Trainspotting’ for a new adventure 21 years on could have gone badly... but Boyle and his four musketeers give it just the right frantic, jaded energy and manic anxiety.
“My only regrets are that ‘T2’ failed to get to grips with the new era of #indyref and Scottish national identity – for which Renton’s famous “shite” speech helped plant a tiny seed in 1996 – and that the second film didn’t give the women characters much to do, especially the excellent Kelly Macdonald and Shirley Henderson.”
The Independent - 5/5
“What’s so impressive about ‘T2’ is how skilfully it manages to stay true to the spirit of the original while acknowledging just how much has changed in the intervening years.
“Boyle’s achievement is to have made a wildly invigorating and enjoyable film about subject matter which is often so dark…
“It will be intriguing to see how ‘T2’ registers with a younger audience who don’t know the original film and aren’t aware of all the cultural references thrown into the mix here. Older viewers, though, are likely to be delighted with a sequel which matches its predecessor both in its zest and in its emotional kick.”
Empire - 3/5
“If the first film is really about the joy of being young — the hedonism, the mistakes, the camaraderie — ‘T2’ is about the disappointments of growing old — the limitations, the regrets, the need for reconnection.
“The shared past of these friends is inextricably intertwined in their present and this where the poignancy of the film lives. Bravely Boyle has made a mostly sombre film about how 40something lives work out and it’s well observed and well-acted. Yet is this what you want from a ‘Trainspotting’ film?”
“’T2 Trainspotting’ isn’t a bad film at all. In places, it’s terrific, but it too often drags in a pool of its own despondency, a miserable and melancholy movie that almost looks a bit embarrassed to be so. As for the soundtrack, which produced two must-have albums 20 years ago, it can’t match its predecessors, although there is clever mash-up work at play...
“It feels trite to observe that ‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a more mature film than its junior self. Of course it is, but the problem is it doesn’t feel wiser, just wearier. But maybe then again, don’t we all?”
“’Trainspotting’, while no all-time classic, remains a bracingly and briskly opportunistic zeitgeist-surf through a time when the United Kingdom and Scotland were — after years of Conservative government — on the cusp of emerging into a new political and social era personified by PM-in-waiting Tony Blair.
“Twenty one years later, ‘T2 Trainspotting’ has zero to say about how all that turned out, and only cursorily engages with what’s going on now — a showy, self-consciously verbose “Choose Life” midpoint monologue from Renton (complete with post-synched audio) notwithstanding.
“In the wake of last summer’s epochal Brexit vote, and with Scottish independence prospects causing much national soul-searching, Boyle’s picture — whose third act pivots on a European Union funding application — already feels instantly and strangely dated.”
Digital Spy - 3/5
The trouble is it doesn’t go anywhere… While it’s an undeniably well-made movie, packed with visual gags, slo-mo, sharp cuts and cutaways trying to recreate the flair of the first film, and there are some laugh-out-loud gags as well as points of poignant tragi-comedy that director Danny Boyle is particularly good at, it can’t ever quite reach the euphoric heights of the original.
The Telegraph - 3/5
“The original ‘Trainspotting’ – ‘T1’, as we hopefully don’t now have to call it – was released in the UK just a month shy of 21 years ago, and so infectious was its hyper-manic, proto-Cool-Britannic charge, it’s now impossible to work out whether it was a product of its time or if the time was a product of it.
“There’s no chance of its successor matching that legacy, but it won’t tarnish it either: though the film feeds on its forerunner, it’s worthwhile on its own terms.”
“Despite topical references to social media and zero hours contracts, ‘T2’ understands it won’t capture the youthful zeitgeist the way ‘Trainspotting’ did.
“It drowns in large shots of nostalgia, regret and wasted lives. The sharp and funny script chooses to honour the characters by allowing them to mature disgracefully while still being sympathetic towards them.
“Take a deep breath. Choose cinema. Choose first class. Choose ‘Trainspotting 2.’”
‘T2 Trainspotting’ debuts in UK cinemas on Friday, 27 January.