K (Ryan Gosling)- an LAPD “Blade Runner” (i.e a cop who tracks and kills runaway artificial humans known as Replicants) – makes a startling discovery that could, in the words of his boss (Robin Wright) “break the world”. Disobeying orders, his investigations lead him to an underground group of rogue replicants and a certain long retired Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
Released in 1982, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner split audiences and critics alike. Those expecting some kind of futuristic slam bang actioner were left befuddled by its bleak tone, and slow pace, whilst others hailed it as a beautifully made, multi layered, genre defining masterpiece.
In my humble opinion it is quite simply one of the most brilliant science fiction films ever made – featuring amazing visuals, superb performances from both Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, an astounding music score by Vangelis and one of the greatest speeches by an actor in the history of film.
When it was announced that a sequel was in the works, i was admittedly somewhat dubious – however with The Arrival and Sicario director Denis Villeneuve at the helm and a returning Harrison Ford as Deckard, one got the feeling that we could be onto a winner.
So i am happy to report that for the most part i very much enjoyed Blade Runner 2049.
Very much like the original it has a look that is simply a wonder to behold – Roger Deakin’s genius cinematography creates a bleak, polluted futuristic landscape that demands to be viewed on the biggest screen you can find -indeed if the man doesnt win an Oscar for his efforts here then there is no justice. Additionally Ryan Gosling is extremely good as K, giving a quietly understated performance that ably anchors the film throughout. To be honest ive never really been that impressed with Gosling in his previous films but here he
more than proves his mettle as a leading man. Then there is the welcome return of Harrison Ford as Deckard. In recent years you really never know what your are going to get with Ford – he was great in The Force Awakens but hasnt really done anything memorable for ages, indeed it would have been somewhat predictable if he had just phoned it in but amazingly he gives one of the best performances of his career to date.
All this would be for naught though without director Denis Villenueve’s superb directing talents. Very much like Christopher Nolan, this guy seems to be completely unable to make a bad film and Blade Runner 2049 may just be his best so far. With the demands of today’s audiences, other less ballsy filmmakers would have gone down a far different route, probably going for something more high octane – not Villenueve – the man obviously has a deep respect for Scott’s original film and has thus bravely created a movie that is very non commercial in its tone, oddly ponderous and very thoughtful. Like the original this sequel will probably take a long time to find its audience with people needing to see it several times to really appreciate just how good it really is.
One must also ask if it is as good as the first film – to be honest i really couldnt say – at the moment i would have to say no – i did feel that it was a bit too long and certainly could have done with shaving 15 minutes off the running time, i also thought that Vangelis’ incredible score should have been used a great deal more as this very much defined the original film and went a long way to making it the classic that it rightly deserves to be.
These small issues aside, Blade Runner 2049 was certainly a superb film and one of the best releases of this year. I am now very excited to see what Denis Villenueve does next – talk is that he may be doing the next Bond or a remake of Dune – no matter – whatever he decides upon, he can count on this film geek to be first in line for ticket.
Author: Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek