Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villaneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto
In 1968 science fiction author, now legend, Phillip K. Dick released the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. In 1982 Ridley Scott, just off the release of “Alien” in 1979, composed the adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s seminal work with the science fiction opus “Blade Runner”. The film was critically panned upon its release, however over time film fans have come to the consider Mr. Scott’s film a “masterpiece”.
Taking place in post-apocalyptic San Francisco, the film and novel focus on the perspective of a gumshoe named Rick Deckard; yet another memorable character of the early 1980’s portrayed by Harrison Ford. Deckard is known as a Blade Runner, a law enforcement officer tasked with tracking down bioengineered beings and “retiring” them. Ridley Scott’s film is a complex, visually stunning film that is influenced by the noir style of the 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s a film that movie enthusiasts should put on their “must watch” list.
Director Denis Villaneuve, who is compiling quite an exquisite catalog of films, takes the task of continuing the Ridley Scott sci-fi saga with “Blade Runner 2049”. Mr. Villaneuve’s striking visual style and skillful narrative design is a perfect companion to the original film, taking the memorable aspects that play proper tribute to the 1982 film and adding exceptional elements to move out of the considerable shadow it casts. What Mr. Villaneuve and team have created with “Blade Runner 2049” is simply an exceptional sequel.
It’s 2049 and a young blade runner named K (Ryan Gosling) is working for the LAPD to “retire” bioengineered beings still operating in Los Angeles. During an investigation K uncovers a secret, long hidden, that has the potential to throw what’s left of the crumbling world into anarchy. Along K’s investigation, he is led on a journey to find retired blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) who has been missing for 30 years.
Director of Photography Roger Deakins has crafted a stunningly gorgeous film; it’s one of the best looking films of the entire year. The composition of this destroyed world, which looks like it’s approaching the final days, is a mix of green, blue, and red. The separation of colors offers a distinct marker for the different places within the narrative. But it also evokes the design of the original film and the way it might look 30 years later. Technology is still advancing, with interactive holograms and floating space cruisers all around, yet nature is a barren wasteland of dust and mud. Science fiction narratives have always utilized technology as a way of turning the mirror on humanity; Mr. Deakins’ camera does the same in regards to the connection of the advanced future and the problems that exist in the current environmental landscape today.
Ryan Gosling’s character K is interesting, a calm and complex character that operates with subtlety even when the moment peaks with intensity. Harrison Ford’s return to the character of Deckard is also well implemented. Deckard always seemed the closest to the persona most fitting to the actor in reality. Watching Mr. Ford operate the character against Mr. Gosling’s creates some ingenious emotional and motivational dynamics. However, to reveal much more about their relationship would be to do the film a disservice. Add other talented actors like Robin Wright playing K’s LAPD Commander, Jared Leto as a mannered and restrained tech visionary, and Sylvia Hoeks as the deceptive and dangerous “problem solver” allows the film to add morelayers to the narrative.
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green wrote the screenplay, Denis Villaneuve organizes a puzzle and forms a slow unraveling mystery that works to emulate the pacing and mood of the original film. For much of “Blade Runner 2049” this aspect works surprisingly well. Though, as the film begins to build towards its ultimate culmination, the commanding nature that the film constructs through the finely tuned elements begins to dissipate. While it still continues to render beautiful images, superb sound, and fascinating performances, the narrative puzzle tries to do too much in the end.
At a running length of close to 3 hours the film never seems long, it instead attracts you into the realm through the beautiful composition. Director Denis Villaneuve is an innovative filmmaker, even when he is dealing with material that is over 30 years old. “Blade Runner 2049” is a polished film throughout that still proposes interesting ideas and questions concerning the nature of humanity and the course that history will pave into the future. At the core, that’s what these films have always been trying to do...make you question what you think you know.
4.25 out of 5.00