Stars: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks
Released: 5th October 2017 (UK)
Reviewer: Luke Walkley
No matter how hard you searched, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more consistent director than Denis Villeneuve. Prior to Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve’s last four projects have all been critically-acclaimed, with 2016’s Arrival earning him a Best Director nomination at the Oscars. Despite all that, revisiting one of sci-fi’s most beloved films, was a risky move, even for a director of Villeneuve’s calibre.
Any doubts however, are put to rest within the first ten minutes of Blade Runner 2049 and, by the time the credits roll, it’s clear that the film is about as close to perfect as anyone could have hoped.
We’re taken to a world thirty years after the original, LAPD officer and blade runner K (Gosling) has stumbled upon a secret that has the potential to cause chaos in what’s left of society. His discovery leads him on a search to find Rick Deckard (Ford) a former blade runner who went missing after the events of the original Blade Runner.
Perhaps the hardest part of writing a review of Blade Runner 2049 is trying not to reveal any spoilers, the film’s narrative is such that part of it’s mastery is the reveals throughout, answering questions posed by it’s predecessor and building on the dystopian universe in which it’s set.
It’s also particularly difficult not to make this entire review read like a love-letter to Villeneuve. However, from the moment Hans Zimmer’s score kicks in, the atmosphere and tone crafted by Villeneuve is mesmeric. It draws the viewer in and refuses to ease up until the final moment.
The Blade Runner universe created by Ridley Scott in 1982 is given an update and we are treated to CGI that could only have been dreamed about all those years ago. Yet despite the upgrade, it all feels familiar. It’s the same neon-plastered smoggy city it’s just this time it’s Gosling walking around in it instead of Ford. Alongside Gosling and Ford, Ana de Armas delivers a fantastic supporting performance as Joi while the film is complimented further by Hoek’s Luv.
Credit must go to cinematographer Roger Deakins too, alongside Villeneuve the pair have created shot after shot of visually-striking cinema, from the lighting of scenes to the remarkable imagery throughout. There’s sci-fi, but there’s also nature, trees, snow and waves feature as prominently as 50-foot neon holograms. It’s highly-detailed cinema on an epic scale.
Criticism has been directed at the films run time, a meaty 163 minutes, but I’m not going to find fault for the sake of it. Sometimes we have to sit back, hold up our hands and just revel in what we’ve just witnessed.
Blade Runner 2049 is an experience that asks it’s audience questions of what it means to be human and yet it’s never self-indulgent or pretentious in it’s delivery -it’s a perfect companion to the genre-defining original.
Blade Runner 2049 is filmmaking at it’s finest.