No one likes getting old, and unless you can laugh about it, you’re doomed. In 1996 Danny Boyle made a brash, bratty film out of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, tracing the depraved high jinks of feckless heroin addicts in a depressed section of Edinburgh. The misadventures of Ewan McGregor’s Renton, Jonny Lee Miller’s Sick Boy and Ewen Bremner’s Spud were funny and awful and exhilarating, in roughly equal measures.
Now, some 20 years later, Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting picks up the threads of these three BFFs’ stories as well as updates us on the résumé of rage-nutter Begbie (Robert Carlyle). The lives of all four come together once again, accompanied by the usual ribbing and brawls and, in some cases, all out murderous apoplexy. And once again, Boyle keeps the energy level at a sustained high. But even if you were crazy about the first movie, you might have limited patience for these antics: sometimes it’s exhausting watching our hapless antiheroes pull off mass pickpocket schemes and debit-card flimflam. Would it kill them to just sit down with a nice cup of tea?
But T2 squeaks by on the charm of its actors, all of whom still look pretty damn good–especially McGregor, who remains a charismatic wag. Yet it’s Bremner’s Spud, who’s struggling to stay clean, that you’re likely to feel the most for. It’s not always so easy to choose life, and watching Spud figure it out is one of T2‘s greatest pleasures.
This appears in the March 27, 2017 issue of TIME.
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