There is a trend with sequels, in this case Blade Runner 2049, that seems to hold true, which is that very often, they’re disappointing! Many a case of diminishing returns has befallen titles that on paper, were projected to prove fine additions to an iconic masterpiece worshipped by discerning moviegoers. BUT, as we know, the reality is that if you’re going to step once more into a potential breach – in this case 35 years on from the original film – you need a stunning plan to exceed expectations and deliver new quintessential brilliance.
With that in mind, I’m going to state right up front that Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece. Here is why I hail this sequel as not only a masterpiece, but a deserved addition to the original movie from 1982.
VISUALLY: It’s gob-smacking. No apologies for the language; a pop phrase that perfectly describes the utterly magnificent and stunning visual look that populates every single pixel. You could add a multitude of superlatives on just the visual experience of Blade Runner 2049 alone, but critically, none of these will mean a thing until you see it with your very own eyes. It’s cinematography is perfectly orchestrated – beautifully lit, intelligently sequenced and exquisitely detailed – frame upon frame of this seismic film that should win the supremely talented, but unjustly looked over, British cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall, O Brother Where Art Thou?) his first well-deserved Oscar.
You could add a multitude of superlatives on just the visual experience of Blade Runner 2049 alone, but none of these will mean a thing until you see it with your very own eyes.
SOUND: In considering sound in a film, there are two distinctions to make; sound track and sound design. The legendary Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk) has both elements working harmoniously together, fusing the film’s images to sound effects and music that underline and score – rendering them complete, inseparable and sumptuous.
CASTING & ACTING: Another golden rule for film is to ‘get the casting right and the film will take care of itself’ and this applies to Blade Runner 2049. The newcomers acquit themselves with finely crafted performances and the returning veterans are more than equal to the task. Ryan Gosling as ‘K’ inhibits his character with a weary, yet curious sensibility, eager to journey to dangerous places and tangle with devious minds that create veritable minefields. He makes you care for his every uncertain step into paths unknown. Harrison Ford brings a huge reservoir of empathy, gravitas and finesse for his return as Rick Deckard. Although not appearing until the third act, he is thrust front and centre for the remainder of the film and is pivotal in the gravitas of its conclusion. I loved relative newcomers Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, sexy and dangerous and with a hint of a soul, and Ana de Armas as Gosling’s beautiful girlfriend (played with an air of melancholy). Nice too, to see both Dave Bautista & Robin Wright in slightly atypical roles, both bringing unique qualities to their characters. Jared Leto is compelling as the god-like Niander Wallace, bringing a disturbing and threating presence that is spooky, creepy, and compelling to watch.
STORY: I’d bet that a critical part of why Blade Runner 2049 works is the return of original screenwriter Hampton Fancher. His vision of where the story needed to pick up and continue feels 100% right. We’re not left asking questions about the direction the story takes. Everything feels logical and comprehensible, nothing comes across as unnecessary, which justifies the rather lengthy running time of 163 minutes. Mercifully, this translates to a film that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and doesn’t feel that long. But, get comfy before settling in – you’re not going to want to pop out of the cinema for any reason!
Have I convinced you yet that this is one of the best movies, not just this year, but any year? Do you need to see the original Blade Runner beforehand? Well, aside from it too, being an absolute bona-fide Sci-Fi classic, you could get away with not seeing it, but doing so will enhance your experience and appreciation of the new, extraordinary and epic vision that Denis Villeneuve and rest of his abundantly-talented cast and crew have created.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 IS A MASTERPIECE.