As someone who was never particularly enamored with the original ‘Blade Runner’ the announcement of a sequel wasn’t overly welcome. However, as further news regarding the film became available such as the casting of Ryan Gosling & Harrison Ford, the choice of director, Denis Villeneuve, and the master of cinematography Roger Deakins joining the film even a skeptic such as myself couldn’t help but look forward to ‘Blade Runner 2049’.
Taking place thirty years after the events of the first film the narrative for ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is not too far removed from the original. More replicants have been created, even closer to human likeness than the previous models, and these newer models are integrated into society as they fully obey humans. Some even have jobs as Blade Runners, retiring older versions of themselves, such as Gosling’s character, K. Similarly to the first film the story here touches on many deep themes yet the main narrative is relatively simple in comparison. It connects well to the events of the first film and makes perfect sense, giving itself a real purpose to exist offering an intriguing level of progression. At a running time of almost three hours the story certainly takes it time and refuses to be rushed. It does this with a rightful confidence though as the way in which the story is told is cinematically irresistible. Like its predecessor I imagine that this story will only enhance with repeat viewings.
As I mentioned already Roger Deakins is the cinematographer here and he may have just outdone himself as ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is nothing short of gorgeous. Contributing further to the already beautiful aesthetic is a blaring score from Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch. It’s incredibly effective, being reminiscent of the original whilst also breathing new life into this chapter of the ‘Blade Runner’ canon. Without such technical achievements as the cinematography and the score I’m not sure how much I would have engaged with the narrative over such a long running time, highlighting the massive importance and success of these elements.
Furthermore, all of the performances were brilliant. Gosling has the most work to do, but he’s a fantastic main character and carries the film very well. While watching the film, I began to wonder if Ford’s role would be nothing more than a cameo, thankfully this isn’t the case and he gets plenty to do when he shows up. It’s easily one of his best performances from these later years in his career. Although the rest of the cast have been overshadowed by the two main stars in the lead up to the film the supporting members are tremendous here always leaving you wanting more of what they have to offer. I found this was particularly the case with Jared Leto, in a performance which should welcome a more unanimous reception than another of his recent high profile roles. Ana de Armas, Robin Wright & Sylvia Hoeks deserve praise too, they all get their moments to shine and they don’t waste a second of the screen time they get.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ feels less like a film and more like a momentous sci-fi event. The spectacle and grandeur of it all is really something to behold. The combination of several artists, at quite possibly the top of their game, make for an unforgettable viewing experience. Masterful cinematography, performances, score & set design help make a story that might have struggled slightly over such a mammoth running time a pleasure to watch unfold. It’s classic predecessor is already cemented in movie history but I’ve no doubt that all of the achievements present in this sequel will result in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ gaining equal or quite possibly even greater acclaim than the orignal.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8.5/10
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