The question of how to make a great sequel, especially over two decades later, is one that is often asked but rarely answered satisfactorily. With legacy sequels, you have a wide range of uses of nostalgia. There’s Harrison Ford’s, “Chewie, we’re home,” that made people cry simply watching a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and on the other end of the spectrum there’s Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, looking out of place in his own franchise.
T2 Trainspotting faces the cultural significance of the original film straight on, with the characters as obsessed with their past adventures as its fans are.
After twenty years, the cast look significantly older, and the contrast between their immature return to old ways and their middle-aged appearance is deliberately highlighted. Sick Boy and Renton refer to each other by Simon and Mark now, and when Mark talks about his career there’s an understanding that he did “choose life,” for better or worse.