aking a sequel to Blade Runner has long been considered ‘the bad idea’ and yet, 35 years after the original was released Blade Runner 2049 has turned out to be ‘the best idea’. In fact not only is 2049 an amazing movie on its own merits, but it is also faithful to its predecessor whilst finding ways to transcend it at times, it’s that rare breed of film that already feels like an instant classic.
Ryan Gosling stars as Agent K, a Blade Runner working in the streets of Los Angeles some 30 years after the original film, his mission remains the same as Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, track down and retire renegade androids a.k.a ‘Replicants’. The film opens up with K in the middle of one such investigation, is his latest target ‘human or Replicant?’ And ‘what does that mean to K? you have to watch to find out though Blade Runner 2049 asks an even bigger question ‘Does it really matter who’s Replicant and who’s not?’
Well the basic concept of the original film was maintained here the Blade Runner world has evolved in meaningful ways, the line between human and Replicant is even more blurred now, and the effects of that blurring has a heavy and emotional weight for the characters and the viewer, much of what’s really happening and director Denis Villeneuve film has been kept out of the market and would be a shame to ruining reveals, this is a unique factor to Blade Runner 2049 an era where audiences go into movies knowing most of what’s about to happen.
Entering the film fresh is the best way to approach it and mercifully we’ve been allowed to do that. Denis Villeneuve has made the kind of movie that seems impossible these days, a big budget extravaganza that’s more art film than action spectacle shot by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins every image is dripping with colour, life, and feeling.
The film is nearly three hour running time may seem daunting, but it’s mostly earned allowing the director to fully realise the mood and atmosphere of the piece, as for Harrison Ford’s Deckard it takes a while to get to him, but the mystery surrounding the character the mountain 2049 builds upon, and when Ford does show up is well worth the wait the legendary actor quiet, gut wrenching interpretation to Deckard and what he must have gone through over the past three decades, meanwhile Gosling plays K like a private eye who has seen more than his share of pain and he and Ford works perfectly, but that doesn’t mean to say that they like one another.
The rest of the cast is also impressive particular Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas but again careful avoid spoilers prevents one from saying too much, Blade Runner has always been about questions surrounding identity and the film makers of Blade Runner 2049 continue to ask those questions, bring new and fascinating variations to the theme, whilst resolving Deckard story along the way.
One of the greatest fears that Blade Runner fans had with a sequel was that it would replicate the visual style that Ridley Scott established in that film, while filling it with a standard good versus evil cop tale, instead 2049 plays off from the themes, plot and characters of the original without cannibalizing and retroactively ruining any of those elements.