Blade Run­ner 2049

A wor­thy se­quel to Ri­d­ley Scott’s sci-fi clas­sic Dir: De­nis Vil­leneuve 2hrs 43mins (15)

The Week - - Film Arts -

“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

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