Blade run­ner 2049

To Live And Die In LA

SFX - - Contents - Richard Ed­wards

We sub­ject the se­quel to the base­line test. Cells. Cells. Cells in­ter­linked within cells.

re­leased OUT NOW! 15 | 163 min­utes Di­rec­tor de­nis Vil­leneuve Cast ryan Gosling, Har­ri­son Ford, ana de ar­mas, Jared leto, robin Wright, sylvia Hoeks, len­nie James

Of all the bona fide sci-fi clas­sics, few are less in need of a se­quel than Blade Run­ner. For all the much-dis­cussed am­bi­gu­ity of the Di­rec­tor’s Cut, Ri­d­ley Scott’s dystopian vi­sion was never one to leave you on ten­ter­hooks. An origami uni­corn and a door slam­ming shut is hardly “I am your fa­ther,” is it?

So the fact that this fol­low-up – which landed in cin­e­mas some 35 years af­ter the orig­i­nal – is not only far from re­dun­dant, but ac­tu­ally an es­sen­tial ex­ten­sion to the world Scott built on Philip K Dick’s foun­da­tions, is a re­mark­able feat. As well as be­ing a log­i­cal and sat­is­fy­ing con­tin­u­a­tion of the story, it’s also a se­quel of mood, tone and aes­thetic – a fol­low-up built of the same com­po­nents, al­beit with some ex­tra 21st cen­tury vis­ual pol­ish.

The hook that drives Blade Run­ner 2049 – the rev­e­la­tion that Rick Deckard and his Repli­cant girl­friend Rachael had a child, and the sub­se­quent mys­tery of what hap­pened to it – isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the most ob­vi­ous way to fol­low the orig­i­nal, yet cru­cially it proves to be a plot­line worth pur­su­ing. It sends Ryan Gosling’s pro­fes­sional Repli­cant hunter K (in­stantly outed as a Repli­cant him­self, in a neat twist on the on­go­ing is he/ isn’t he Deckard de­bate) on a labyrinthine in­ves­ti­ga­tion that in­volves sig­nif­i­cantly more de­tect­ing than Har­ri­son Ford had to do first time out – in that re­gard, 2049 is sig­nif­i­cantly closer to the Ray­mond Chan­dler sto­ries that in­spired the first movie. In fact, the movie’s rather clev­erer than it ini­tially ap­pears, as the overly cute idea that K might be Deckard’s son turns out to be an elab­o­rate red her­ring – it’s a big relief when it turns out that the truth is darker and much more sat­is­fy­ing.

De­spite what the pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial would have had you be­lieve, Ford’s Deckard is merely a sup­port­ing player – part McGuffin, part plot de­vice, part (in­ten­tion­ally) ab­sent fa­ther – but that’s en­tirely the right choice for the film. As The Force Awak­ens showed, Ford re­turn­ing to an iconic role works best when he’s not car­ry­ing the movie, but in­stead hand­ing the torch to the next gen­er­a­tion. This is un­de­ni­ably Gosling’s film: K is its driv­ing force and, de­spite his lack of the usual hu­man emo­tions, its moral cen­tre.

As with the orig­i­nal Blade Run­ner, the story is con­sid­er­ably less im­por­tant than the way it’s told. It’s never less than jaw­drop­pingly beau­ti­ful, up­ping the scale on Ri­d­ley Scott’s genre­defin­ing dystopian vi­sion to cre­ate an even more vividly re­alised world. Throw­ing in gi­ant holo­graphic fig­ures and a spec­tac­u­lar Los An­ge­les sea wall, while tak­ing us to new lo­ca­tions like San Diego and Las Ve­gas (this world has evolved sig­nif­i­cantly, yet or­gan­i­cally, in the three

A log­i­cal con­tin­u­a­tion, and a se­quel of mood and aes­thetic

in­ter­ven­ing decades), di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve is happy to linger on Roger Deakins’s spec­tac­u­lar cin­e­matog­ra­phy. The ad­di­tion of Hans Zim­mer and Ben­jamin Wall­fisch’s ad­ven­tur­ous score – which sounds like a com­bi­na­tion of In­cep­tion, Van­ge­lis and some­thing en­tirely dif­fer­ent – adds to the as­sault on the senses.

If awards were handed out for am­bi­tion, Blade Run­ner 2049 would sweep the board. It’s not quite, how­ever, the game-chang­ing clas­sic that some of the slightly hy­per­bolic early re­views would have had you be­lieve. It has the same leisurely ap­proach to sto­ry­telling as its pre­de­ces­sor, to the point where you could lose 10-15 min­utes from the lengthy run­ning time with­out any detri­ment to the plot, while Jared Leto’s Nian­der Wal­lace, heir to the Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion’s Repli­cant em­pire, is more a per­for­mance than a char­ac­ter. But the big­gest mis­step is that none of the fe­male char­ac­ters are sig­nif­i­cantly de­vel­oped – they’re all ef­fec­tively just foils for the men, whether it’s Wal­lace’s hench­woman Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), Robin Wright’s sym­pa­thetic po­lice chief Joshi, or Joi, the over-the-counter AI K falls in love with (Ana de Ar­mas).

Still, Blade Run­ner 2049 is as good as we could pos­si­bly have hoped, a wor­thy fol­low-up to a film that has been much im­i­tated but never bet­tered. It’s a rare ex­am­ple of a mega-bud­get block­buster that re­fuses to pa­tro­n­ise or give easy an­swers, and as such its am­bi­gu­ity will be de­bated for years to come. Blade Run­ner fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

De­spite be­ing nom­i­nated 13 times, 2049 cin­e­matog­ra­pher Roger Deakins is yet to win an Os­car. Surely this time...?

The mod­ern art mu­seum had a di­vi­sive re­cep­tion.

Ryan’s fruit­less search for magic mush­rooms con­tin­ued.

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