Sci-fi se­quel re­tains edge

Sunday News - - SOUND AND VISION -

As to its pace, be warned: Blade Run­ner 2049 is no modern-day ac­tion-thriller – its re­wards are in­stead de­liv­ered by be­ing smart, in­ter­est­ing and very lan­guid.

Blade Run­ner 2049 (R13) 163 mins WHENre­watch­ing the orig­i­nal Blade Run­ner (1982) in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the most-her­alded movie event of 2017, one is struck by sev­eral thoughts.

Prin­ci­pally, there is a dis­ori­ent­ing sense that what you’re watch­ing is more fa­mil­iar from the myr­iad cin­e­matic mo­ments im­i­tated in sub­se­quent movies – from the Van­ge­lis synth sound­track and rain-drenched dystopia to the soar­ing cin­e­matog­ra­phy across its night­time cityscapes. You also no­tice how op­ti­mistic di­rec­tor Ri­d­ley Scott was 35 years ago, when en­vis­ag­ing the tech­nol­ogy we might hope to see in 2019 (the year that Har­ri­son Ford’s Deckard first hunted repli­cants on the big screen). Granted, char­ac­ters make video calls (al­beit only us­ing pay­phones), but we’ve nearly caught up time-wise and I’m still wait­ing for some­one to in­vent a do­mes­tic step-in­side hairdryer. Thirty years on, Agent K (Ryan Gosling) is an LAPDem­ployed blade run­ner, tasked with ‘‘re­tir­ing’’ the older model repli­cants who pro­voked re­bel­lion in times past. He stum­bles on a cold-case mys­tery which his boss (Robin Wright) wants si­lenced, but which deep­ens into a rab­bit hole he can’t climb out of.

With a well-writ­ten plot which pairs pro­fes­sional duty with per­sonal yearn­ing, the clever in­tri­ca­cies are best left for the viewer to dis­cover. But those who haven’t seen the orig­i­nal would be well ad­vised to watch the orig­i­nalBlade Run­ner be­fore ex­pe­ri­enc­ing 2049’ s near three­hour run-time.

The thrills of cel­e­brated di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve’s (In­cendies, Si­cario, Ar­rival) gor­geous update de­rive largely from the ev­i­dent rev­er­ence shown to the source ma­te­rial. Hans Zim­mer’s sound­track lands smartly some­where be­tween Van­ge­lis-es­que and the mo­tifs of Vil­leneuve’s reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor, Jo­hann Jo­hanns­son.

The writ­ing team, too, seems like an as­tute choice: old-timer Hamp­ton Fancher, one of the orig­i­nal writ­ers on Blade Run­ner, whose sub­se­quent writ­ing cred­its have mostly re­volved around that ti­tle, and younger-bod Michael Green, who birthed more con­tem­po­rary ac­tion dra­mas Lo­gan and Alien: Covenant.

But as to its pace, be warned: Blade Run­ner 2049 is no mod­ern­day ac­tion-thriller – its re­wards are in­stead de­liv­ered by be­ing smart, in­ter­est­ing and very lan­guid.

Apart from our male leads (Gosling is ter­rific and Ford shows more emo­tion in his dotage) and the con­tem­po­rary pow­er­house that is Robin Wright, the cast com­prises mostly un­fa­mil­iar faces.

The women are suit­ably strong and beau­ti­ful, and al­though there are a few too many nude fe­male fig­ures on dis­play, the story’s sex­ual con­tent is in­tel­lec­tu­ally in­ter­est­ing.

Vil­leneuve has cre­ated an up­dated Blade Run­ner wor­thy of its an­ces­tor, while bring­ing it ap­pro­pri­ately into the mid-21st cen­tury. – Sarah Watt

The women of the fu­ture are suit­ably strong and beau­ti­ful.

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