Bladerunner 2049 is visually arresting and overlong.
*Full disclosure, I only saw Bladerunner last year, and fell in love as all others did before me.
Set 30 years after the original, this sequel tells the story of an advanced replicant, Ryan Gosling’s Agent K, a Bladerunner, who retires the older replicants, these older models are prone to rebellion.
With Tyrell Corporation collapsing soon after the events of Bladerunner, it was reinvigorated by Niander Waller. Richer than god, Wallace is having issues developing replicants who can become pregnant.
Thankfully, despite the crash-bang trailer is deceptive and it’s not been turned into an action film
After well-received films such as Sicario & Arrival, director Denis Villeneuve took a risk directing a sequel to such an iconic film. Co-written by original script writer, Hampton Fancher, it was a well thought out risk. The plot development is excellent. It draws viewers in, wanting to see how the replicants evolve. Replicants are fascinating technology. Visually, the representation of these future cities are cold. There’s the storming rain, the dark grey city buildings towering over the people. Ambitious advertising with holographic and interactive elements is great. Odd to see that the commercially available replicants are advertised as female, there doesn’t appear to be male replicants for sale.
The thundering storms represent a city’s devastation. However as the most beautiful shots are more widely drawn, it seems a shame to experience these Godzilla levels of rain. Running through an expansive factory, feeling raindrops for the first time, snow-whitened scenery. For one of the most beautiful shots this year, Agent K dressed in dark greens, walks across an empty, orange-dust covered city. Encircled by growing winds, almost at the pinnacle of his search, we feel his awe at this dead city.
One of my favourite cinematic treats this year has been Hans Zimmer’s looping intensity-driven score on Dunkirk. The perfect horror score served that wartime intensity. It’s a tad overused here. Whereas it complimented the struggle onscreen in Dunkirk, it merely fills some scenes here.
It must be said, at 2hrs 48mins, it’s too long. It tests the bladder, and there are parts that could have been axed without the story suffering. There’s too much emphasis on Wallace, in a role that already feels like it’s been edited down. Wallace is a callback to the role of Tyrell, the maker, in the original. K’s love story with his holographic girlfriend, Joi, is sketched out to show what excellent technology there is on offer. However it’s ability to reflect & expand on what love is, was more readily explored in ‘Her‘.
After LaLa Land, a nice, but unchallenging role, Ryan Gosling reminds us of what a stellar actor he is. Surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, Robyn Wright, Dave Bautista and Sylvia Hoeks are only some of the delightful turns. Harrison Ford perfectly embodies an aged, grizzly and cynical Deckard, and frankly, what more could be asked for. Well, actually, more developed parts for people of colour, pretty please.
Concepts of modern day slavery, fallible memories and what it means to be human are all explored. An abrasive soundtrack mars a great homage to a iconic film.
Blade Runner 2049 is out in cinemas now!