Blade Runner 2049 - This. Movie. ROCKS!!
Dir: Denis Villeneuve
Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Ana De Arman, Mackenzie Davis
Like its esteemed predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 instantly takes its place as one of the most remarkable realisations of science fiction to ever grace a movie screen. We can’t really call it innovative, in that it not only owes such a huge debt to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic (The Final Cut, that is), but is determined to not just share its DNA, but to genetically engineer it into something altogether new but equally provocative and unique.
Scott is here as overseer, but there are two people we really have to thank for this new vision of future noir, director Denis Villeneuve and his DP Roger Deakins. We’ll take a pause to say it now, just to get it out of the way – for God sakes give Roger Deakins his Oscar this year!! (after 13 unsuccessful nominations.) What he has done here is simply create one of the most sumptuous, visually arresting and just downright gorgeous movies this genre has ever offered. This future is desolate, bleak, but simply captivating (even overwhelming) to the eye. On its most basic level, Blade Runner 2049 is a thing of great beauty.
But there’s more to it than that. There is also a strong story (which we can’t go into too deeply) which builds on the original and takes it in undiscovered and fascinating directions. (Who’d have thunk it – a sequel that develops the original rather than just makes it bigger and more of the same?) Gosling excels as Agent K – this year’s model of Replicant hunting Blade Runner - drawn into a story that touches on the past and the machinations of the then Tyrell Corporation, now transformed as the Wallace Corporation, and holding secrets that could reimagine the very nature of life itself. All of which leads Agent K (as in Philip “K” Dick we presume, he who started off all these electric dreams) on a hunt for the original of the species, Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard. It’s no surprise that he finds him – but there are surprises here, some of which are genuinely unexpected, all of which feel emotionally correct for the story being told here. Even when the movie moves into some firmer form of action set piece towards the end it retains its natural elegance.
Much has been made of the film’s lengthy running time, but it’s testament to Villeneuve that not a moment seems misjudged and the film never ever feels like it’s outstaying its welcome. The director (who surely catapults to Nolan territory with this one) sets his pace from the very first scenes and maintains it throughout, slowly unravelling his film as the events unravel before K’s eyes and understanding. This Blade Runner isn’t playing to the groundlings, it’s so measured because it’s so assured. And ultimately, it washes over and under you, at times feeling almost hypnotic, at others urgent and thrilling.
This is as good a movie as anyone could possibly have expected. Probably more so. It’s too soon to do that whole “which one is better?” bit – and do we really need to? This is a companion piece. In some ways more beautiful, in some ways more philosophical, both complimentary and one of a kind. And we thought they didn’t make movie like this anymore. Thankfully, some people still do
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