Looper, The Matrix, Terminator, Total Recall, Ex Machine, Ghost in a Shell; all these sci-fi films would not be here if it weren’t for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. An adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel created one of the pillars of Sci-Fi with it’s bleak but almost beautiful look into the future and a compelling story and message.
However, it’s been a long time since Blade Runner came out in 1982. The Sci-Fi genre has been showered with great films and technology in cinema has progressed so much, but despite all this Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 keeps the foundations of Blade Runner and builds on it, arguably making a better film than the original.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
The first thing to notice about Blade Runner is that there isn’t one frame or scene of this film which isn’t absolutely stunning. The gloomy future that is imagined for Los Angeles and other settings in the film are all covered with a depressing sheet of grey with sparks of neon. It also expands the world of Blade Runner showing us the life outside of the city, or lack of life, with its barren sandy wastelands; which look just as good.
I found Blade Runner so refreshing with its lack of over the top CGI and visual effects. You won’t find any alien species or massive planets up close here. Instead, a mind-blowing refurbishing of the original Blade Runner aesthetic. The visual effects are amazing when they are apparent, for example in the character Joi, who is a beautiful hologram AI program; an essential part of Blade Runner 2049’s plot and emotional journey.
The presentation in Blade Runner 2049 is unique and breathtaking. It makes the series stand out from the crowd and one the most gorgeous films ever made.
“The key to the future is finally unearthed. Bring it to me.”
The world Blade Runner 2049 is set in is an unsettling and miserable one. Earth’s economy has collapsed and new replicants are used to hunt down the old ones. Thirty years after the events of the first film, Ryan Gosling plays K; a brand new type of replicant and a Blade Runner.
K makes an incredible discovery and begins to dig deeper into the mystery. This mystery attracts the interest of LAPD Lieutenant Joshi (played by Robin Wright) and brooding maker of the new replicants Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto).
The story is compelling and a clever mystery which delves deep into the world of Blade Runner 2049 and builds on the epistemological themes philosophical built in the previous film. Each step and corner our main character takes presents new questions, scenarios and raises the stakes higher. It’s not a cat and mouse game like the previous film. A bigger and more dangerous game which becomes more and more personal to K. The story has you gripped each step of the way.
One thing that previous Blade Runner fans may be disappointed with (and it’s not the absence of Harrison Ford throughout most of the film) is how the film sacrifices a philosophical look at machines and robotics for a more mainstream story and message. This doesn’t mean the story is bad because it’s not, but this the sequel doesn’t really do anything new in terms of the way it looks at the Replicants.
“I had your job once”
Much like the previous Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 is filled with memorable characters, some have fascinating stories and conflicts and are used to reflect the dystopian world around them.
Ryan Gosling is a great replacement as the main Blade Runner, his performance as a replicant is great to watch, especially as his character progresses throughout the film. We’ve seen many great actors like Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender pull off androids/robots before, but Goslings commitment and the writings Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have created makes this struggling replicant and Blade Runner a great protagonist.
Other memorable performances include Jared Leto, whose monologues and horrific actions presents to us a character who is dangerous and unmerciful. Harrison Ford returns as the retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard adds to the groundbreaking drama and the emotional weight of the story. Deckard isn’t overused enough to overshadow other characters but is the perfect cherry on top for Blade Runner fans.
Director Denis Villeneuve has taken on the heavy cross of making a sequel to one of the most iconic and cult classic Sci-Fi films of all time. Not only has Villeneuve succeeded beyond expectation, but 2049 is remarkable and an honest sequel to the original.
It’s a Sci-Fi spectacle like no other, with its vast and eerie world filled with memorable characters, played to convincingly by its all-star cast. Blade Runner 2049 is unmissable and well worth the 35-year wait.