Sharp se­quel out­runs orig­i­nal

Lennox Herald - - THE TICKET -

OK, it’s hold my hands up time – I wasn’t a huge fan of the orig­i­nal Blade Run­ner.

Whilst recog­nis­ing its strengths, that it was way ahead of its time and that it’s a per­fectly watch­able and hugely in­flu­en­tial slice of sci-fi, I just found the film to be slight of story and lack­ing in true drama.

As a re­sult, my ex­pec­ta­tions for this 35 years later se­quel weren’t as high as those who rate the first flick as a clas­sic; but the pres­ence of De­nis Vil­leneuve – on one heck of a run with En­emy, Si­cario and Ar­rival – be­hind the cam­era meant I was an­tic­i­pat­ing great things.

And boy does the French-Cana­dian de­liver the goods with not only one of the year’s finest, most in­ter­est­ing movies, but that rarest of beasts – a follow-up that sur­passes its pre­de­ces­sor.

The orig­i­nal film’s Hamp­ton Fancher teams up with Lo­gan’s Michael Green on the screen­play and the less you know go­ing in, the bet­ter you’ll en­joy what un­folds on screen; just know that it’s made abun­dantly clear that ro­bots have feel­ings too and that, at its heart, this is a mys­tery above all else.

Tak­ing the bull by the horns right from the off is lead Ryan Gosling (K) who shines in a very chal­leng­ing role – which is also his most phys­i­cal to date – com­bin­ing in­ner tur­moil with a steely de­ter­mi­na­tion to do what’s right.

His touch­ing re­la­tion­ship with Ana de Ar­mas’ Joi is de­light­fully cre­ative and there’s much more to Robin Wright’s Lieu­tenant Joshi than ini­tially meets the eye.

Jared Leto’s (Nian­der Wal­lace) Zen-like com­pany head is an omi­nous, lit­tle-used pres­ence, but it’s Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks’ (Luv) chill­ing, re­lent­less en­forcer who leads the way in terms of vil­lainy.

Har­ri­son Ford’s Deckard is back and the 75-year-old takes a sim­i­lar stance to his role in Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens by adding old­school charisma and a grouchy tongue in small doses as he steps back and al­lows his younger co-stars to breathe in a world he helped make fa­mous.

But even if the act­ing wasn’t so strong, Blade Run­ner 2049 would still rate as a re­splen­dent gift to the senses. Vil­leneuve and the dig­i­tal ef­fects team have built vast land­scapes and huge sets that lend the se­quel a grandiose scale.

From the scorched, desert-like ru­ins of Las Ve­gas to use of haunt­ing fog, shadow, wa­ter, snow and, of course, rain, Vil­leneuve is a vi­sion­ary work­ing at the peak of his pow­ers.

He de­liv­ers on the emo­tional beats too; who would’ve thought Luv’s de­struc­tion of a cou­ple of inches of plas­tic could mean so much?

Vil­leneuve also knows when best to utilise Hans Zim­mer and Ben­jamin Wall­fisch’s haunt­ing, hyp­notic score, drop­ping it out com­pletely for ten­der mo­ments and a few bruis­ing brawls.

Blade Run­ner 2049 is weighty, brain-test­ing, top sci-fi that prom­ises more in­ter­est­ing devel­op­ments ahead that we surely won’t have to wait an­other 35 years to see.

Spell­ing out the fu­ture Ryan Gosling stars as blade run­ner K

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