Trainspotting 2, C+
Rated R, 117 minutes
First there was an opportunity, then there was a betrayal. That's the subject of the wildly eneven, occasionally hilarious 1996 classic dark comedy "Trainspotting," which followed the exploits some grubby heroin addicts in England. The thin sequel "Trainspotting 2" is an appealing, though blandly revisionist look at what happens when heroin addicts grow up, and are they really all that interesting after they grow up?
Twenty years latfer, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place that he can ever call home. There waiting for him are old buddies Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) and Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, love, fear, regret, self-destruction and mortal danger are also all lined up and ready to welcome him.
"Trainspotting 2" brings back its original director, now Oscar-winner Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire"), its screenwriter, Oscar-nominated John Hodge, and many of its original cast, including McGregor. "Trainspotting" became a huge hit in the 1990's, putting Boyle, Hodge and McGregor all on the cinematic landscape, not to mention featuring one of the best punk rock soundtracks of all time. The entertaining but uneven "Trainspotting 2" occasionally recaptures some of the of the original's edgy humor and charm, though the '96 film, which still holds up well, is by far the better of the two.
"Trainspotting 2" benefits from the chemistry of its cast, with McGregor, Carlyle, Miller and especially Bremner playing off each other well, with the bug-eyed Bremner as Spud stealing many scenes he's in. Not all of the story works well, but the game cast keeps it watchable; since 21 years has been a long time for a sequel, perhaps too long really, Boyle seems intent on infusing the film with flashbacks of that movie, which are occasionally a distraction and make you wonder, did they really look like that back then (the answer to that is, yes, of course).
McGregor, with his everyman appeal (which he had back then, even as a heroin addict), holds the film together, as Carlyle chews on scenery, Bremner steals scenes just by standing there, and Miller seeming slightly disinterested (and Kelly Macdonald's part is so small here it seems an after thought). The weak script has little to offer and it goes on much too long though "Trainspotting 2" is still good for a few laughs here and there (McGregor and Miller have the film's most memorable scene, a bar fight in the first act).
"Trainspotting 2" tends to wax nostalgia a little too much, and as the old saying goes with addicts, they tend to be much more fun when they're using and not so much after they get their stuff together. On that note, "Trainspotting" was much more entertaining, and its sequel doesn't improve upon anything, except that friends grow up and become rather boring as adults.