Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 
 
(Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
 
Rating: 5/5 
 
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
 
Summary: Beautifully constructed and thrillingly executed, Blade Runner 2049 is as much about science fiction as it is about human truths. 
 
 
Ridley Scott ushered in a new wave of science fiction when he exploded onto the scene with Alien in the 70s. A decade later when he released Blade Runner to initially muted reception and disappointing takings, he sort of closed the door on his way out. 
 
Only later when his director’s cut (and subsequently perfected “final cut”) was released did Blade Runner finally get acknowledged and applauded as the revelatory sci-fi piece that it was - a sort of hybrid of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a handful of classic film noirs and maybe even something akin to Godard’s Alphaville in the way that it subverted genre expectations and ideas of heroes, villains and damsels in distress. Its challenging story of hunted robots looking to extend their lifespan in a neon and fog drenched future Los Angeles was an enigma that slowly revealed its magic. Blade Runner was perhaps one of cinema’s finest vintage bottles.
 
 
In its long journey to acceptance, Blade Runner became shrouded in a sort of touchless aura that makes fans shudder at the thought of a sequel or reboot. But with Denis Villeneuve in the director’s chair after establishing his worth with the likes of Sicario, Prisoners and Arrival within the last few years alone, the excitement grew that perhaps Blade Runner 2049 would be worth watching after all. More than that, it’s a masterwork of its own accord. 
 
Villeneuve’s film centres around a Blade Runner (essentially someone hired by the police to terminate human-like robots) named K. K is a replicant himself. When he uncovers a dark secret, he begins to question his own past which he had for so long had just assumed was a collection of fake memories installed into him at ‘birth’. Could K actually be human without knowing? Or is he a robot that is developing human emotions? Or are his circuits just getting crossed? Coming off the back of his second Oscar nomination for La La Land, Ryan Gosling continues his cinematic hot streak with this crucial role that offers glimmers of subtle humanity under a veil of coldness. 
 
 
It’s fitting that his character name, K, is both the middle initial of the first film’s author Philip K Dick and also the main protagonist of Franz Kafka’s The Trial - a novel that sees an unassuming man unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime only to be prosecuted by a inaccessible authority. There are echoes of this classic dystopian novel within Blade Runner 2049 - What is a man? What is a crime? What is autonomy? Is a future of darkness any future at all? 
 
Blade Runner 2049’s narrative meanders down these paths and many more intriguing and exciting diversions as well to a point of almost being overwhelming (especially when you combine it with Roger Deakin’s staggeringly immersive cinematography). It’s the kind of film that requires multiple viewings to get the most of its plot. And like all truly great science fiction films from The Man Who Fell to Earth to 2001, it substitutes the “fiction” of its genre name for a parallax view of human truths. 
 
Blade Runner 2049 simply must be seen, preferably after a refresher of the first film’s final cut. Be sure to pick up the 4K UHD version of Blade Runner 2049 if your system can support it. This is a reference quality disc. 
 

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