When Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting first graced our screens in 1996, it transcended expectations spectacularly. It was more than just a movie, it was a cultural event, a film that spoke (well, shouted) directly to an entire generation. So how do you emulate what came before? The answer is, you don’t. You can’t. This eagerly anticipated sequel was never going to have the same impact as the original endeavour, but as long as you bear that in mind there is plenty to take away, for there is no doubting this picture carries that same, familiar swagger that illuminated the original. It’s a worthy follow-up – and that in itself is commendable enough.

Based on Irvine Welsh’s Porno, there is a semblance of confidence going into this film, knowing you’ve got a pre-existing narrative in place, while Boyle – and the cast – have all returned, when they absolutely wouldn’t have to unless they felt assured it would be okay, that it wouldn’t be shite. Well, I’m pleased to report that it’s definitely not shite.

Renton (Ewan McGregor) has come home to Edinburgh after his exile in Amsterdam. He knows fully well the old gang would struggle to forgive him for his act of betrayal two decades earlier, and while Spud (Ewen Bremner) is more sympathetic, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) welcomes back Renton by attacking him with a pool cue. Begbie (Robert Carlyle), on the other hand, is still locked up, and yet still poses something of a threat to the man he once considered a dear friend. Tensions are high, and exactly where Renton stands remains to be seen, but Sick Boy – along with his sort-of-girlfriend Nikki (Anjela Nedyalkova) – have a business proposition to offer their returning friend, which could see Renton drawn right back into the murky, grotty, bleak underbelly of the Scottish city he had once waved goodbye to.

T2 TrainspottingRemaining faithful to the tone of the original, Boyle presents this story in the same, stylistic way, taking a surrealistic approach at times, evidently having fun, with a creative means of storytelling that is true to the film’s unique brand. Within a mere matter of seconds it already feels like you’re watching a Trainspotting film, with Boyle taking risks, and seeing most of them pay off. The way the filmmaker balances the comedy with the pathos is remarkable too, as one minute you’re laughing out loud, and moments later you’re feeling pensive and solemn. Every time the slowed down version of Born Slippy is played you almost feel yourself choking up, and it’s implemented at exactly the right times. Inherently, and much like the original, T2 is a desperately sad film, and to have that work so seamlessly with the overstated, imaginative elements is what allows for this film to work.

But while the nostalgia that exists ensures you have a smile smacked across your face throughout the entirety of the first act, with every recognisable face, the soundtrack, the look and feel, all filling us with such joy – as that wears off, we do become reliant on the narrative, and that’s where the flaws begin to appear, as the story, and ending, is unfulfilling. The constant nods to the original do serve a purpose, of course, but also feel somewhat contrived too, also the case for the comments on modern society, like the newly-devised ‘Choose Life’ monologue, with additions such as ‘Snapchat’, ‘Slut shaming’ and ‘Revenge porn’ – that feel a little forced and not reflective of the character projecting this rant. Perhaps not helped that he hasn’t got that irrational anarchy that he had when younger, now seeming like a grumpy middle aged man that should get on with things.

There’s even a moment where Begbie recounts a line he said in the first film – a line we all remember, because we’ve seen the film a million times. But in the real world, you don’t remember things you said 20 years ago, and you certainly don’t when you were off your tits at the time of saying it. A pedantic criticism, perhaps, but one that is emblematic of a film that tries a little too hard, on occasion, to hark back to what came before.

But the nostalgia is prevalent, and it’s what makes this such a rewarding cinematic experience. And to think we’re reminiscing about the youth of these characters, looking back over their misdemeanours, the darkest of days, with a perverse fondness, even managing to find a strand of relatability by remembering our own youth, when we’d act first and worry about the consequences later, when we’d fuck up (a lot), and when we’d try new things – and this film lingers over that notion. There’s one moment when Sick Boy turns to Renton and asks, “Nostalgia – is that why you’re here?” and though he may not necessarily agree, it’s certainly true of why we’re still interested, and what of it?