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BLADE RUNNER 2049   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Friday, 06 October 2017


Welcome to the Future....where Everybody Runs. Everybody. In the most awaited sci-fi sequel in years.

Blade Runner 2049 is that most dangerous of things - a much belated sequel to a loved classic. Its a small genre, but Harrison Ford seems to excel in it.Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came after 17 years , The Force Awakens after 32...and now Blade Runner 2049, after 35 years.

And what is a Blade Runner? Well, in this Ryan Gosling stars as the titular Blade Runner ; a detective who specialises in hunting down replicants, the genetically engineered humans who have no legal rights, designed to operate as slave labour. This is not called execution - it is called retirement. Only the older models - the ones with free will - are strictly illegal. Newer ones won't rebel, won't kill, won't disobey an order. But When he tracks down one errant older model replicant out in the deserts of California, he discovers something most unexpected - and opens up something that could upend everything.Everything in the society which he serves, and has sworn to protect.

Thats as much as you get from me for plot. Anything else is spoilers, and I've got to admit - it was utterly fantastic to watch a film, and not know the plot, not know every last beat and action sequence, not be able to guess or second guess or triple guess every twist and turn. As a huge fan of the original, the secrecy is genuinely appreciated.

"2049" inhabits a much changed world since the original, and is far far longer ; it gives the fan much to chew on.To the person who isn't familiar with the original, it might be occasionally confusing, but all becomes clear and explained. It works better knowing the original, but doesn't need to be seen.

But does this film work, on its own? Or is it just fan fiction made flesh? it is a replicant itself? Well, Blade Runner 2049 is most satisfying of sequels - it not only works, but expands , adds to, and gives new dimensions to the first. Some belated sequels seem to be keen to be requels - have remake, half sequel, taking the same story beats and transplanting them to a different location.(Hello! Tron legacy! Hello! Force Awakens! etc. etc.) Not BR 2049. From the same writer as the original film, it explores the same big ideas, and takes them to somewhere I had never imagined.

Visually, Blade Runner 2049 is a stunningly realised visually sumptious sci fi epic. Also, it subverts pretty much every single blockbuster template. Not for this film is jumping from one massive setpiece to another, one exploding spaceship to the next. No. Where most blockbusters go huge, this goes quiet. Where most go for more, this goes from introspective. This is best exemplified by a little moment, just before the end - Ryan Gosling's character just walking along, interacting with a massive holographic billboard. It doesn't add to the plot, it doesn't add to the advancement of the next setpiece. It is just atmospheric, and character driven. Like the entire film.

Not to say though, that this film is dull. It deals with bigger things that just stuff blowing up. What it deals with , is much along the same lines as the original. Questions like what does it mean to be human? Where do we draw the line?

A lot of reviews have described the film as "next level staggering", full of effusive praise. it's not - it is neither perfect, nor staggering. What it is is inspired, solid, and very very VERY good. Its got flaws - it retains many of the ambiguities of the original, and there's also massive hints at a far more interesting , very Philip k Dick-ian concept at its core that are quickly glossed over. Similarly, there is two significant plot twists, both of which are seemingly to go into a direction that would be both particularly cliched, hackneyed, and over used. Fortunately, the film subverts both - but for a long long time, it made me fear the film is going in the worse sort of "wtf?" territory. The sort of dumb, crass plot twist that "Spectre" wasn't smart enough to avoid. Significantly, there's a spectre of another, 30 year old, film noir that seems to haunt the film throughout - one that even naming the film will invoke massive spoilers ; but one which Jared Leto's mysterious character "Wallace" invokes stylistically, in dress style, facial hair, eyes - the whole lot.

Magnificently shot, incredible looking, resonant, intelligent, expectation defying, unformulaic, and haunting ; Blade Runner is next-level, pure hard sci-fi. It is unhurried, and gives those big ideas time to breathe. And that is an incredibly rare thing in modern cinema, especially on such a huge budget.

Director Dennis Villneuve brought us last years "Arrival", and that dealt with similarly themes in just as intelligent manner ; here he knocks it out of the park again.Blade Runner 2049 It does that thing that sequels rarely do - it makes the original film better, richer, and Blade Runner 2049 - whilst not as good as the original - is a truly deserving sequel. BR2049 is huge, epic, and unhurried, emotionally resonant and intelligent sci fi of the highest order.Make no doubt, this is must see cinema. Not a movie. Cinema. I doubt I'll see a better movie all year.

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