Upon hearing about the sequel, I had no idea where the story would go in this installment. I imagined that the aesthetic would remain the same, and the problems revolve around drugs. The aesthetic does remain the same, but the storyline focuses on the redemption and development of the individual characters. Intermittent themes remind us of the past film, with addiction and life ideals constantly popping up. Drugs are still in the film, but the newest drug for the gang is redemption. With the bodies of mid-life men, the characters still have the mindsets of their past selves, creating an entertaining follow-up to Danny Boyle's (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) original masterpiece.
Throughout the film, I got lost on the journey of each character. I understood what was going on, but felt trapped in the unfolding story. Don't get me wrong, this is a great thing! When you can connect to the characters and their lives, you know that the story has been written well. John Hodge's (The Beach) screenplay is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, with separate stories that are intertwined in the final act. Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith), Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later), Ewen Bremner (Black Hawk Down), and Johnny Lee Miller (Hackers) clearly remember their acting talents from Trainspotting. Their character portrayals have not changed in the 20 years that have gone by. Angjela Nedyalkova (The Paradise Suite) adds a great character to the mix as well with her portrayal of Veronika. The development of these characters keep the film rolling at a runtime that is almost half an hour longer than the original.
I would go amiss to neglect a short discussion of the soundtrack as well. "Perfect Day" was such a big hit in the original film that the filmmakers chose to keep it for the second film as well. However, new additions to the soundtrack remind the audience that times have changed. U2 and Queen hits create an atmosphere that lives on for younger audiences. Without these new hits, the film might have been a drag!
The Bottom Line: The same gang is back to live out the rest of the original story with new developments that create another film full of fun and emotion.