- Andrew Lynch
BLADE RUNNER 2049 Review
‘Blade Runner’ is an interesting film. Not for the complex ideas it poses about humanity and freedom and Man-meeting-Creator. Or the numerous cuts and versions of the film, whose canonical importance is debated over. It’s interesting for the cult status it holds, given the poor critical reception it received. What’s made it weirder is that this cult-film now has a sequel, with the original star, director now as producer; and one of the best directors, cinematographers and actors working today, willing to be involved. And it is one of the most moving, complex and stunning films since, well, the original.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ follows Officer K (baby goose, Ryan Gosling) as he investigates a mystery that ties in the Wallace Corporation and former-Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Try to stay as blind to this film as possible, because from scene one, the film offers twists and turns not hinted at in any advertising material. The result of Dennis Villeneuve’s directing and Roger Deakin’s orgasmic cinematography is an emotional rollercoaster epic that, given time, may surpass the original.
The staples of a ‘Blade Runner’ film are here; deep, philosophical discourses about weighty themes such as freedom, love, memory, the human soul, capitalism; a world of gritty future-technology that feels like a 30-year advance of the original world; corporation run societies with a leader suffering from a serve God-complex. Amongst all that is a film with a strong heart at its core.
This heart is powered by the subtle and diverse performances from the stellar cast. Gosling may come across as emotionless initially but as the film progresses, it is justified and leads to deserved bursts of raw emotion. Ford once again turns an iconic character into a world-weary shadow of his former self, who’s dragged back into the life he left behind (see Han Solo). He gives one of his best performances in decades that can be compared to Patrick Stewart’s heart-breaking performance in ‘Logan’. Jared Leto may give another divisive performance, as he plays a scenery-chewing, narcissistic, ‘millennial’ successor of Dr. Eldon Tyrell. He serves the narrative well enough that his performance can be enjoyed for what it is. Ana De Armas is surprising here as Joi; heart-felt and necessary joy (see what I did there) in a bleak world, she is the heart of K’s life and gives an emotional gut-punch of a character arc.
The film may struggle from a lengthy runtime of 2 hours and 44 minutes, that will definitely push general audience’s concentration levels. However, when the film is this scintillatingly shot by legend Roger Deakins (who has already won the Oscar) and tightly written and structured, it’s impossible to find anything weak.
Hans Zimmer steps up as the composer who must rival Vangelis’ iconic score. It’s hard to think of a better successor than a man who has made of name for himself by composing iconic ‘BWAMMMS’ for Nolan and the DCEU, reminiscent of Vangelis’ techno score. Sadly, Zimmer’s score is less memorable and more ‘BWAMMMMY’ than necessary but is still adequately techno and bombastic to elevate the emotion.
Villeneuve again offers up a near-flawless film with the thrills of ‘Prisoner’, the unique imagery of ‘Enemy’, the pulse-pounding action of ‘Sicario’, and the multi-faceted discussions of ‘Arrival’. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is his magnum opus and hands down, one of the best of the year.
Moving and majestic, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a worthy follow-up to the cult original that deserves to be dissected and analysed for years to come.