‘BLADE RUNNER 2049’ (2017) Movie Review – Denis Villeneuve’s Quintessential Sci-Fi Masterpiece
It is official, Blade Runner 2049 is an astounding triumph on multiple levels, it succeeds in crafting a sequel that builds upon its predecessor’s story, and also stands on its own as a phenomenal modern sci-fi masterpiece. One of the greatest modern directors in Denis Villeneuve has created an immaculate film with a story that will render you speechless, characters that command your full attention, and filmmaking achievements that will go down in history. The main plot itself is a major spoiler which means you get a very vague synopsis that doesn’t tell you much more than what the trailer does. The film follows K (Ryan Gosling), a blade runner who goes on a mission to unearth a secret that could change the world. As per usual, Roger Deakins’ has teamed up with Villeneuve as the cinematographer and his work here is mesmerising, he captures this world in its best and worst light and either way it is beautiful. The score helmed by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is electrifying and single handedly transports you into this world, as if you are living these events yourself.
It is written by Michael Green and co-writer of the original Blade Runner Hampton Fancher and what they manage to create with the story here is more than I could have ever expected. It amazingly continues the story of this world and its inhabitants and acknowledges the fact that a lot has changed since we last saw it, as the original film is set 30 years prior to these events. But at the same time it is a story that newcomers to the universe can easily get sucked into with the induction of characters such as K and Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace. And what is fantastic about this is that it doesn’t just continue the story for the sake of knowing “what happens next” it goes in certain directions to add to the events of the original in the same way the original story adds to these new events. It doesn’t forget the events of the past, it acknowledges them and respects them. I cannot possibly go into the details or even the vague direction of the story due to it being shrouded in heavy spoilers but it goes in directions you don’t expect and holds many surprises around every corner. I would say it is a very character centric story where the events that occur and every scene that you follow is crucial to understanding a character and developing their narrative arc.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a film that to this day is visually incredible with cinematography that has stood the test of time and represents this futuristic world in the most beautiful way possible. Now you bring in one of the greatest cinematographers to ever exist in Roger Deakins and what he achieves here is undeniably stunning and easily some of his best work. The way this world is represented through darkness and colour creates an atmosphere and a feel for this world that is familiar yet foreign, and futuristic yet very lived in. Every shot had me in awe of everything I was seeing, every cityscape and every baron wasteland no matter how busy or empty had a story to tell and I was drawn in to this world like no other. Meanwhile, Zimmer and Wallfisch’s score is the perfect acquaintance to this stunning cinematography with every piece of wall pounding sci-fi magic transporting you into this world and completely clearing your mind of the real one. I constantly found myself lost in this amazing score that compliments the visuals incredibly and it is most definitely one of my all time favourites.
As far as the performances go, everyone involved brings their A-game, especially Ryan Gosling who commands the screen for the majority of the runtime and straight up never breaks character for a second. Not that this film needs carrying but Ryan owns every scene he is in and brings so much raw power and emotion to his character through the subtleties of his performance alone. Harrison Ford very much returns as the replicant(?) ex-blade runner Rick Deckard and where things have obviously changed in the 30 years he’s been existing he still retains many of the personality traits that made Deckard… Deckard. He definitely doesn’t phone it in and is compelling as this character who has now seen a lot of shit. But aside from Ford and Gosling the biggest standout of the film and quite possibly my favourite character is Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace. Wallace is more or less the new Eldon Tyrell, the man at the head of the new corporation in charge of building replicants and he is such a mysterious and intriguing character I wanted to see more of him. Leto’s portrayal of this character is brilliant, he is very creepy and unsettling yet I found myself loving him for his strong willed mindset and importance within this world. There are a number of other strongly compelling roles that I won’t go into for various reasons, most of which are to withhold spoilers.
So in the end there is no doubting the fact that this is a definitive masterpiece, there is not a single second of this film i didn’t love and it could very well become one of my favourite movies of all time. The cinematography, score, story, characters, and performances are all so well executed and it is all wrapped up tied with a nice little bow by Denis Villeneuve who continues to prove why he is one of greatest directors working today. Now, do you need to have seen the original film to understand and appreciate this story??? Technically no, you don’t, but I would implore you to do so before checking out this movie in order to get the most out of it. I would also definitely check out the three shorts that were released in the lead up to this film as they bridge the gap between the original and this sequel and give you a greater understanding of why the world is the way it is in 2049.