Alex Gidley’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You're an addict, so be addicted. Just be addicted to something else"
In essence, a sequel to Trainspotting is something that makes far more sense than it doesn't. A main theme in the first Trainspotting is about how people rarely, if ever change. So transplanting those same characters into world that is drastically different to the one they previously knew sounds like something that would provide a good basis for a movie. Unfortunately, T2 Trainspotting is really unsure of itself and what it wants to be.
There's a clashing of styles and themes here. As mentioned before, T2's main thematic thread is how things have changed yet these characters haven't. And while that works with some characters, namely Spud seen as how he has been stuck in the same self-destructive cycle for 20 years, with others it makes less sense. Take Begbie for example. Yes, he's still the same violent sociopath but his purpose within the plot is much more of a central villain as opposed to the first where he was just a dick.
Yet, despite how it's about people who have failed to properly adjust to the modern world, the film feels the need to update its style whilst also trying to stay true to the grungy style of the original. Renton's famous "choose life" monologue has been updated to include things like references to social media as well as actually being delivered directly to a character, which detracts from its impact. Snapchat is an oddly reoccurring addition both through the actual app as well as putting cartoon sticker heads over some characters. Boyle has just matured too much as a director to make this work. Part of the charm of the first Trainspotting was its rough edges and the attempt to create the same rough edges here through clunky second long freeze frames feels insincere.
That doesn't mean there isn't good moments however. The performances are incredibly strong from the main cast, Spud's arc is wonderful and the soundtrack is of course top class. It's just a shame everything surrounding it brings it down so much.
For a film about progression, it couldn't feel more dated.