If you think this expansion on the Irvine Welsh Cinematic Universe ought to be appraised and adjudged entirely on its own merits, know that T2 makes that virtually impossible, even more so than most sequels. This is a film that takes every chance it gets to ape, echo or literally splice in 20-year-old footage from its formidable forerunner. The plot, which finds Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returning to his native Edinburgh, rescuing Danny "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner) from an attempted suicide and running afoul of Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) and Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle), both of whom remain murderously vexed with Rents for having made off with their share of the big smack deal that concluded Trainspotting the first, eventually wends its way around to a (slight) variation on that same outcome.
There are, again, multiple fir fuck's sake!s; someone calls someone else a doss cunt again. Renton reels off an updated, noticeably purpler "Choose Life" monologue. McGregor sneers that sneer. Bremner gawps his gawp.
Meantime, when they're not busy self-referencing, T2's creators have no idea what kind of movie they want this to be. A buddy picture, a comic crime caper? Maybe, except then there's Begbie, freshly escaped from prison and now some kind of Midlothian terminator, stalking and stabbing and garroting his prey; in these passages director Danny Boyle dips liberally into horror and suspense.
For each inspired moment, there's something deflating: the snatch of dialogue in which Sick Boy explicitly lays out the beats of the plot to come; the overall tendency toward the cheap crowd-pleasing punch line.