Blade Run­ner fol­low-up re­spect­fully ex­pands on ni­hilis­tic uni­verse

BLADE RUN­NER 2049 (15)

Fingal Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT -

The im­per­fect, rain-lashed fu­ture of the orig­i­nal Blade Run­ner is al­most upon us.

Re­leased in 1982, Sir Ri­d­ley Scott’s ground-break­ing fan­tasy con­jured a breath­tak­ing vi­sion of a dystopian Los An­ge­les in 2019, fes­tooned with al­lur­ing holo­grams that flicker to the mourn­ful strains of Van­ge­lis’ elec­tronic score.

The ea­gerly awaited se­quel, di­rected by De­nis Vil­leneuve, who was Os­car-nom­i­nated for the el­lip­ti­cal sci-fi thriller Ar­rival, hon­ours the past and re­spect­fully ex­pands the ni­hilis­tic uni­verse imag­ined by Philip K Dick in his novel, Do An­droids Dream Of Elec­tric Sheep?

In Blade Run­ner 2049, an­droids dream of wooden horses and pos­sess­ing the one thing that can­not be coded into their metic­u­lously crafted bod­ies: a soul.

‘You’ ve been get­ting along fine with­out one,’ re­bukes one hu­man to her melan­cholic repli­cant un­der­ling.

Mo­tifs from the ear­lier mis­sion re­ver­ber­ate tan­ta­lis­ingly through­out this pris­tine fol­low-up, deftly stitch­ing to­gether two time­lines with­out com­pletely ex­clud­ing au­di­ences who are bliss­fully ig­no­rant of the orig­i­nal pic­ture.

Fa­mil­iar­ity un­doubt­edly en­riches the ex­pe­ri­ence but also sows seeds of nos­tal­gia-tinged dis­ap­point­ment.

For all its bravura pro­duc­tion de­sign and flaw­less spe­cial ef­fects, Blade Run­ner 2049 doesn’t smack gobs with its in­ven­tion aside from a sen­sual three-way sex scene that gen­tly tick­les our g-spot.

Like the au­tom­ata that en­rich hu­man lives, Vil­leneuve’s film is one small yet sig­nif­i­cant it­er­a­tion shy of per­fec­tion.

The la­conic hero is of­fi­cer KD6-3.7 (Ryan Gosling), one of a new breed of griz­zled blade run­ners, who ‘re­tire’ ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered repli­cants that live among the weary pop­u­la­tion.

He re­turns home each night to a cold, func­tional apart­ment, where a holo­graphic com­pan­ion called Joi (Ana de Ar­mas) cre­ates the il­lu­sion of com­pan­ion­ship.

Work­ing un­der Lieu­tenant Joshi (Robin Wright) at the Los An­ge­les Po­lice De­part­ment, K hunts out­dated Nexus-8 mod­els, which haven’t been coded to cher­ish hu­mankind like the new repli­cants fash­ioned by Nian­der Wal­lace (Jared Leto).

His ‘an­gels’ are closely mon­i­tored by his most per­fect cre­ation, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), who jeal­ousy guards her el­e­vated po­si­tion at her cre­ator’s side.

In the course of his un­for­giv­ing work, K un­cov­ers a shock­ing se­cret.

‘ This breaks the world,’ whis­pers a ter­ri­fied Joshi.

The sub­se­quent quest for painful answers leads K to Deckard (Har­ri­son Ford), who is re­luc­tant to ven­ture back into the au­to­mated world that al­most de­stroyed him.

Two gen­er­a­tions, scarred by loss, unite in the spirit of self-sac­ri­fice.

Blade Run­ner 2049 is a beau­ti­fully crafted thriller that sus­tains a pedes­trian pace, al­low­ing us to sec­ond-guess K and even beat him to a cou­ple of nar­ra­tive punches.

Gosling’s re­strained per­for­mance con­trasts with de Ar­mas’ lu­mi­nous em­bod­i­ment of a digi­tised love in­ter­est, who yearns to con­nect on the most pri­mal level. Ford eases back gruffly into a fa­mil­iar role, no­tice­ably with less spring in his step, while com­posers Ben­jamin Wall­fisch and Hans Zim­mer crank up the vol­ume on their bom­bas­tic score.

Vil­leneuve’s mus­cu­lar, brood­ing film does not fade qui­etly.

RAT­ING: 8.5/10

Ryan Gosling as K and Har­ri­son Ford as Rick Deckard in Bladerun­ner2049.

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