Oh, how I really do wish I could have rated this even higher than I have. But although I can recall only a little of the original film, to which this is a 20-years-later sequel, I do remember experiencing the extraordinary adrenalin rush the 1996 release had given me. I didn't quite get that here, though part of the reason for that could well be how I (along with everyone else, naturally) have aged since.
Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner and Johnny Lee Miller reprise their much younger characters, meeting up again (or re-confronting each other) in Edinburgh after a couple of decades of prison, criminal activities, debauchery, marriages and separations, fathering children, drug involvement etc etc - you get the picture. They've learnt little from mistakes of the past - though its Begbie (Carlyle's completely crazed character) who is the one who's least reformed, angry as hell about everyone else rather than himself, now with a son in teenage years whom he derides as the boy tries to make himself respectable, something his father has never even attempted. Meanwhile Renton (McGregor - as the most matured of the four, at least up to a point) comes on the scene, having run off in the earlier film with everbody else's share of ill-gotten cash, and Begbie is the last person in the world who knows forgiveness, out to wreak revenge and demand atonement. Johnny Lee Miller and Ewen Bremner show few occasional flashes of maturity but are liable at any time to return to former ways - and then there's younger, east European Veronica (Anjela Nedyalkova) hovering around them with knowing silences and sober platitudes.
There are some impressive set-pieces, such as Renton's (McGregor) 'Choose Life' soliloquy. Quickfire verbal exchanges and arguments can turn in a split-second into horrific punch-ups, and not just with fists but with anything that's near at hand - though, curiously, with mostly blood-free results.
Soundtrack pieces chosen often refer back to the earlier film, as well as there being quite a number of short, visual extracts from T1.
As in 1996, this film is based on writings of Irvine Welsh. Director Danny Boyle, along with his quartet of actors, has well re-caught the spirit of his earlier effort and he doesn't try to make them overdo physically what their decades-younger selves could easily accomplish with their then much suppler and stamina-fuelled bodies, although there are echoes of their attempting to emulate those earlier young men, especially in at least one long, running pursuit.
Boyle also delivers his expected full panoply of mind-dizzying, arresting images, often in heady, quick succession. I couldn't help being reminded of Ken Russell at his most manic - which I intend as a compliment.
Although set in Edinburgh - and we do see some good exterior shots of that most photogenic of cities, including a climb right up to the summit of 'Arthur's Seat' (the prominent high 'hill' which overlooks the capital with a fabulous view) - most of the film, including all the interiors, was actually filmed in Glasgow.
Though I did find this film very entertaining indeed, it ultimately lacked for me that final 'kick' which so marked out the earlier film as being something exceptional. Nevertheless, I still would thoroughly recommend it, especially to fans of the first. If you're not familiar with the original (which I've not seen again since that 1996 release) then I would recommend this even more as you'll probably be in for a terrific surprise, though you may well be shocked as well, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
If this film hadn't been a sequel, having an original with which to compare it, I may have been even more impressed than I was, and which I'd been dearly hoping to have been. But even so, I have no hesitation in giving it, in my terms, a hefty score of..........7.5.
19 minutes ago