Justin Benson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I went into this really hoping for the best. I really did. Trainspotting is a film I consider to have been quite vital developing my taste in film, and as such, it's very close to my heart. Nine times out of ten, making a sequel to a film ten years after the fact is treacherous at best, and a sequel arriving twenty years after the original is more often than not a total death sentence.
With the degree of talent in front of and behind the camera, there was no way a sequel to Trainspotting was going to be a total failure. But even though T2 rises above many recent belated sequels, there's still an overwhelming sense of pointlessness radiating from each scene.
First, the good. Even though 20 years have passed, our four leads haven't missed a beat. McGregor, Miller, Bremner, and Carlyle all slip seamlessly back into these roles with a new dose of depth to each of them.
Meanwhile, behind the camera, Danny Boyle is at the top of his game. In conjunction with the sequel's more somber tone, a lot of the kinetic visual style of the first film is kept somewhat to a minimum. Despite this, Boyle still gives everything a very inventive look that nails the solemn nature of the proceedings.
However, no matter how good the acting and directing is, they're both in service of a plot seriously lacking in momentum. Watching T2 is like watching a bunch of ideas and themes get cut into little pieces and thrown into a blender. There's no attempt to expand on any specific one and they're all thrown together as to negate any sense of coherence or connective tissue.
The whole thing just feels like watching Danny Boyle and company try to figure out what a Trainspotting sequel should be in real time. Interesting themes concerning nostalgia and obsession over the past are dealt with mainly by just clumsily inserting references to the first film, such as when this film's version of the "Choose Life" speech completely hijacks a random dinner conversation.
Both the story and conflict of Trainspotting 2 are so mundane and cobbled together that it feels like they could be the story and conflict of any movie. It all just feels like one big excuse, which isn't not helped by the film's horribly pedestrian and rushed climax.
T2 Trainspotting is far from being some kind of disaster, but it's no miraculous comeback either. Perhaps, my love for the original and these characters prevents me from totally dismissing it, but it also makes the disappointment sting that much more. With a little more development and care put into it, T2 could have been a more than worthy follow-up to the original. As is, it'll make your lust for something better.