Blade Runner 2049
A worthy sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Dir: Denis Villeneuve 2hrs 43mins (15)
“Such is my love” for 1982’s visionary masterpiece Blade Runner, I was consumed with “first-night fear immediately prior to seeing this sequel”, said Chris Hunneysett in the Daily Mirror. I needn’t have worried. Blade Runner 2049 is, quite simply, the “best sci-fi film of the decade”. Anchored by a compelling performance from Ryan Gosling, Denis Villeneuve’s 160-minute epic is a gripping, visually stunning and “deeply humane” thriller, which wrestles with complex “questions of memory, identity and the meaning of love and life”.
Like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this is a “reboot cloned from beloved DNA”, said Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out. The action takes place 30 years on from the original, but the setting, as before, is a troubled, futuristic LA. And it’s “still raining”. Like Deckard, the protagonist played by Harrison Ford in the first film, Gosling is a hard-bitten, trenchcoated hunter of “replicants” – that’s to say, robots that are almost indistinguishable from humans. To complicate matters, he is a replicant himself, who has a loving relationship with his housemaid, a shape-shifting hologram named Joi (Ana de Armas). Then, while on a case, he makes a discovery that forces him to doubt everything, including his own origins. His quest throws him into the path of Jared Leto’s spooky, blind tech tycoon, Niander Wallace, and ultimately that of Deckard himself, who is now a hermit hiding out in the wreckage of Las Vegas. We’re made to wait two hours for it, but Ford’s grizzled, humorous, conflicted turn includes some of his “best dramatic work for years”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. It reminds you “how much more” the actor can do than just “dog-eared charisma”.
At the screening I attended, a studio executive begged us not to reveal the plot, said Deborah Ross in The Spectator. Yet even if subjected to “waterboarding followed by a foot-whipping”, I couldn’t tell you a thing about it, since the storyline is so “Byzantine”. The tempo is slow, and I found Ford “moody and annoying”, said Kevin Maher in The Times. Nevertheless, the film is worth watching for the extraordinary cinematography of Roger Deakins. “See it in an Imax if you can”, since the scale of this cinematic tour de force is “jaw-dropping”, agreed Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. While I admit the narrative is sometimes hard to follow, it is “never less than a lot of fun trying”. “A gorgeous confession of soullessness”, Blade Runner 2049 delivers a “sweet, synthetic ache”, which may be “the best that Hollywood has to offer right now”, said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. “A masterpiece? It’s a pretty good replicant of one.”
A visually stunning and “deeply humane” thriller