Blade Runner 2049
Jacob Richardson | 07/10/2017
Villeneuve’s visually stunning epic has some missteps, but anchored by incredible performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, is a worthy addition to the pantheon of masterful sci-fi films.
Blade Runner 2049 follows Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a futuristic Blade Runner, as he investigates a mystery that starts with replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), and leads him, inevitably, to discoveries involving long-forgotten Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a two hour long tour-de-force of Philip K Dick sci-fi, that over time has not only been the source of much debate, in terms of it’s implications and meaning, but also has achieved an enviable status as an undisputed science fiction classic. So it was a trepidation filled exercise, hearing about Sony’s ambitious plans to return to the neon-soaked world in a sequel. Some confidence, however, was surely warranted when it was announced that Denis Villeneuve would helm the behemoth picture.
Villeneuve has cemented his place, slowly but surely, as the finest director of recent times. His command of performance in the Gyllenhaal/Jackman starring Prisoners, his work on the nail-biting Sicario and his mind-boggling sci-fi redefining epic from earlier this year, Arrival, is testament to his capability with giant, yet intimate, themes. They all also present often bleak looks at the nature of cyclical violence, and feature incredible cinematography and heart-pounding scores.
While Blade Runner: 2049 may eschew some of the Director’s more traditional interests in the nature of violence, the film certainly lives up to his reputation for incredible visuals and audio. Once again re-teaming with famed cinematographer Roger Deakins, Villeneuve presents the world of Blade Runner in a slicker, more immersive and beautiful fashion than ever before. It’s utterly, mind-bogglingly incredible to see the use of colour, light and shadow in this film. Villeneuve not only uses it to create atmosphere; he also uses Deakins' tremendous ability to draw the audience into the immensity of some of the towering performances from this cast of tremendous actors. A dialogue scene between Jared Leto’s industrialist Niander Wallace and Deckard is given new meaning with a constantly revolving overhead light, that rotates the lighting on each actor’s face between shadow and warm, yellow light. It’s not just an element of creating interest in a dialogue scene for the audience; it also gives us an insight into the various shades of light and dark in each of these characters, and pronounces the performance of these two world-class actors.
It’s lucky, then, that Harrison Ford is utterly incredible in Blade Runner 2049. Villeneuve pushes him to new heights, and that particular dialogue scene has him dripping with tears and wrenching on our heartstrings. He’s backed up by a particularly well-used Ryan Gosling, whose sly smirk-tinged blank facade is perfect for K. While Leto doesn’t really register that well, and a surprise cameo feels undeserved, the rest of the supporting cast does a uniformly excellent job.
There’s questions to be had, certainly, about the logic of the entire plot, and certainly the film is one that, like the original, will be dissected and discussed in minute detail for years to come. But for the most part, Villeneuve has not only lived up to, but also exceeded the expectations set from Ridley Scott’s genre defining piece. He’s given us an astoundingly beautiful film, brought to life by two indelible performances in Gosling and Ford, that continues the story of the first film without, crucially, losing it’s mystery.
Blade Runner 2049 is epic filmmaking. It’s bold, beautiful and intensely immersive. You won’t want to leave this world once you’re in it.