The reviews are in.
T2 Trainspotting, the belated sequel to Danny Boyle’s 1996 masterpiece Trainspotting, was screened in London last night and the critics have had their say. Some chose to sink into the warm glow of nostalgia, others plumped their needles and went for the jugular.
In a four-star review, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw noted that the characters had returned for “a scabrous and brutal black comedy about middle-aged male disappointment and fear of death”. He concluded: “T2 isn’t as good as T1: it is a little too long and unwinds a bit into caper sentimentality, broad comedy and self-mythologising. But it has the same punchy energy, the same defiant pessimism, and there’s nothing around like it.”
In an even more positive review – five stars out of five! – Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote that “Boyle directs with huge energy and inventiveness, using music every bit as effectively as in the first film to drive on the action.” Like Bradshaw, MacNab acknowledged the ageing process as T2 Trainspotting’s central theme: “the film has some very poignant and introspective moments in which the characters confront the mess they’ve made of their lives.”
Writing for Scottish paper The Daily Record, Chris Hunneyset acknowledged that “T2 understands it won’t capture the youthful zeitgeist the way Trainspotting did.” Yet in summation he reckoned: “The sharp and funny script chooses to honour the characters by allowing them to mature disgracefully while still being sympathetic towards them.” No stars, because The Daily Record doesn’t do stars but he seemed to be into it.
The Metro’s Ann Lee took a list-y approach, documenting ‘6 reasons why you’ll love T2 Trainspotting’. Continuing the theme that has been emerged throughout this round-up, she noted that “the sequel is very much grounded in the disappointment of middle-aged life.” She concluded: “The plot also seems a bit aimless at times and the film itself is more an exploration of the repercussions of the first film rather than being driven by a strong story in itself but Boyle does bring it all together in the end with the same bite as the first film.”
Writing for Digital Spy, Rosie Fletcher was less forgiving: “It’s bathed in nostalgia. It references Trainspotting constantly, but rather than reigniting the subversive, energetic flame, it just makes you miss it… The trouble is it doesn’t go anywhere.” In a savage parting blow, she suggested, “Choose DVD.” Ouch!
Empire’s Ian Freer gave it three stars, saying “it rides along similar lines but it is just not quite as good”, while The Telegraph’s Robbie Collins matched the score and wrote that “there’s no chance of [T2 Trainspotting] matching… [the original’s] legacy, but it won’t tarnish it either: though the film feeds on its forerunner, it’s worthwhile on its own terms.” A mixed bag, then. Still not sure what to think? Choose The NME verdict.