The cynic in me, assumes creative types, whether it’s actor or director only return to franchises for the money. It’s a theory that often turns out to be true. They walk done well-worn paths of nostalgia by offering the same predictable beats which made the original so good without truly saying anything new. Upon hearing that a new Blade Runner was on the way, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my theory. Yet things started to work in its favour, director Denis Villeneuve, probably the most exciting director working in Hollywood was on board. Harrison Ford was signed up too. The result is more than could have been for, an original and thoughtful movie, set in an already beloved world. Find out more in our review of Blade Runner 2049.
K, is a replicant Blade Runner who is sent out to ‘retire’ a replicant working on a big industrial farm. When his investigation of the surrounding facilities uncovers another body, he soon discovers the possibility of a new evolution in the world of replicants and is lead back to the case of an old Blade Runner who may hold the key to the truth.
Usually main stream movie science fiction is loud and dumb when it is made at all. Aliens and explosions often par the course. Yet Blade Runner 2049 starts with a slow, tense build up to a stand-off. A bit like a western, it takes place in an almost characterless kitchen. Yet like the food being prepared, boiling away, slowly building, the movie is carefully laying detailed and meticulous pieces for a mystery that will unravel because that’s what Blade Runner was and 2049, is a detective movie. Yet it’s movie filled with a questions of identity, of the possibilities of life, of dystopian futures and of love. Each is something to make you think, but unlike the original made to make you feel too.
That’s probably why Blade Runner 2049 deserves so much praise. It’s its own thing while never betraying the spirit of the original. Compare that with The Force Awakens. AS much I enjoyed The Force Awakens I will freely admit that it borrowed heavily from the original movies formula and that was to its detriment. Here we see familiar things, weapons, outfits, even returning cast members but never being a slave for what came before it and never really looking to score on nostalgia. It’s a line I’ve never seen walked so carefully but so well before.
It might be the care that each character and place has, filled with personality, filled with details of technology, nothing ever feels like it’s just there for the cool factor. It’s a film that will leave you thinking but also one that I think will reward the multiple viewing too with little details, treasure and puzzles to solve.
Any science fiction movie requires a level of commitment to the concept by actors, actor who hopefully not only interact well with what might be a green screen but also add emotional resonance to what be an unusual story. Ryan Gosling as K continues his streak of fantastic roles. His is a different journey than Deckard as he already knows he is a droid yet maybe he is more. Harrison Ford continues to resurrect and seem interested in returning to characters that he has played before. Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks and Ana De Armas offer fascinating characters, two are artificial. One filled with emotion, the other rage. Robin Wright continues to find a resurgence in her career and her Captain of Police is complex and so different from what has been played before.
The original Blade Runner in its day was a technical achievement filled with this neon soundtrack, ethereal and haunting effects. It was science fiction but it was moody noir. Rain covered streets and decaying technology. Blade Runner 2049 follows in that rich vein of technical achievement. The world is ravaged by environmental disaster and so what was once just a night setting has lifeless industrial farms or dust ravaged cities. The world is more industrial and the music and sound is a mix of that Vangelis and something grungier. You owe it to yourself to see it at the best possible cinema you can.
Much like the original, Blade Runner 2049 will not be for everyone and its slow and sometimes plodding story will bore some, I liked my time in the world. A time which is admittedly probably longer than needs be. At almost three hours in length, I recommend a visit to the facilities before you start and an avoidance of large drinks.
Blade Runner 2049 Review Cheat Sheet
Blade Runner 2049 is brilliant, beautiful, thoughtful and haunting. A wonderful story that is informed by the original yet paves a truly original never disregarding its legacy. Last year Denis Villeneuve gave us the best sci fi and possibly the best film of last year and takes a solid swing it again this year. Other than a slightly too long running time this is an absolute must see. A technical masterpiece deserving to be seen on the biggest and best screen possible. Only after the test of time will we know if it’s a classic, but my bet is on yes!
+ A technical marvel- sight and sound at its A game.
+ Cast that is truly committed to the premise
+Emotional and thoughtful.
+ A world filled with detailed that celebrates the original legacy while never being a slave to it.
-running time is too long.