Born out of a stage adaptation of ‘The Undefeated’, the third of three stories in Irvine Welsh’s 1996 collection ‘Ecstasy’, this Canadian production lands another few fruitless strokes of the whip across the long-dead horse known as ‘Trainspotting’. A decade and a half after Renton and company, we’re back in Edinburgh and not much has changed: happy pills are still de rigueur on the dancefloor; our characters comprise a not unfamiliar assemblage of chancers, motormouths and psychos. The main difference is a more central love story, as Adam Sinclair’s Lloyd – a sometime drug smuggler whose addiction issues are complicated by his serious debt to his scary employer – falls for Canadian housewife Heather (Kristin Kreuk), who’s been dabbling in the club scene to forget her dysfunctional marriage.
Where ‘Trainspotting’ cleverly showed us chemically-dependent amorality and let us make our own conclusions, this significantly more workaday offering gets itself in a real thematic tangle, one-minute espousing the liberating potency of ‘disco biscuits’ and a kickin’ DJ set, then later insisting that real life and real emotions only begin once illicit substances are out of the equation. Like so many drug movies it starts out down-with-the-kids but ends up preaching. That it’s at least trying to access genuine feelings of vulnerability and loss does stand in the movie’s favour. Yet the writing’s just too hackneyed to make much of it, the cast a forgettable lot compared to Danny Boyle’s charismatic crew, and Rob Heydon’s direction a collection of played-out visual tics (speeded-up cityscapes, on-screen character captions, etc) which never builds any appreciable dramatic momentum. Not so much chemical romance as serious downer, it all seems so old.