Director: Denis Villeneuve
Genre: Science Fiction
I wanted to open this review with some notes on the first Blade Runner movie and it’s importance to me growing up in the earlier stages of science fiction on the big screen. It’s now almost thirty-five years since I was transfixed by the first film on VHS and now some twenty-six or so years since I finally caught a showing of the directors cut at the cinema. Blade Runner is a film with equally important status as the original Star Wars trilogy in my eyes and after much speculation and rumour over the years we finally have a sequel. At first I was apprehensive especially after Ridley Scott bowing to public demand in what he gave us in Alien Covenant. Then, Denis Villeneuve was announced as directing. A brave decision by Scott to relinquish artistic control of his baby, so to speak, but also a very wise choice after the incredible Arrival last year. My interest was now spiking and I could not wait for the film’s release.
The events take place some thirty years after those of the first film. Ryan Gosling is an up and coming Blade Runner and despite advances in the creation of synthetics issues of compliance and obedience were still common place and units were still required to “retire” any replicants who presented any problems.
Whilst on a case Gosling’s “K” makes a discovery that will completely change the perception of replicants, one which could present a real danger to humans. With strict orders to contain the discovery the case leads K to seek out Rick Deckard who has been missing for the thirty years since the closing of the last movie.
Ryan Gosling plays K perfectly. From movies like Drive, Gosling has shown he has just the right talents to pull off a role such as K. A wry and ever so dry individual, K has to deal with questions of his own existence and that of both humans and replicants alike and Gosling displays that this is something of a battle for him exceptionally well.
Harrison Ford reprises his role of Rick Deckard with something of a swagger about him. Having spent three decades in isolation with as much alcohol as he can consume he has become even more cynical than he was to begin with. Much like his return as Han Solo, it’s like Deckard has never been away and it’s a joy to see him back again.
Dave Bautista, Robin Wright & Jared Leto don’t really have the sort of screen time that really warrants a full analysis but to be fair they all offer competent input to the overall story. I was grateful that Leto wasn’t given much to do as I’m not a big fan but, fair is fair, he does give a cold, detached and undesirable element to Niandaer Wallace, the man who had taken the work of the now collapsed empire of the Tyrell corporation to the next level.
Ana de Armas brings a certain charm to Joi, a sort of love interest for K. Despite her limitations she has a genuine affection and love for K and she’s prepared to risk all to stand by him.
It’s Sylvia Hoeks, however, that really shines as the replicant Luv. As a kind of enforcer for Wallace, she shows every bit of ruthlessness and brutality that Rutger Hauer showed as Roy Batty in the original film. She really is a joy to watch as she attempts to complete her mission with extreme prejudice.
Well, what can I say. I was utterly blown away at how good Blade Runner 2049 was. At two hours forty minutes long I expected some moments where those uncomfortable cinema seats would remind you of their presence but that just didn’t happen. It was captivating from the very first minute to the very last. As with the first the imagery was breathtaking as the perception of Los Angeles at the time that the movie is set was presented. Bright and glittery whilst dark and bleak simultaneously, I was just sucked back into a world I thought I would only ever see in yet another Blu-Ray cut of the original film. My first words after seeing that aren’t really fit for publication but my remark that it was simply amazing will help get the point across. Ridley Scott, along with Villeneuve, have managed to create a movie that stays impeccably faithful to the previous film and take the story to the next stage with great interest. It’s like the equivalent of Aliens following Alien, although perhaps not better overall just a hugely worthy following installment. I’m comfortable saying that this will sit very nicely in my small but building collection of Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray. It’s a film I will likely catch again on its current run, hopefully in Imax.
The verdict: 4.5/5 Stars: Absolutely amazing cinema.