Blade Runner 2049 – new model, same breathtaking ride

Director Denis Villeneuve shatters the saying that sequels rarely live up to the original with his beautifully realised Blade Runner 2049.

Mmmm. That turned out rather well, I think. I’m trying to stay relatively calm and understated as I write this post as that was definitely not what I felt when I stepped out of the cinema from seeing Blade Runner 2049.

“My mind is officially blown – breathtaking, remarkable and one of the films of the year” I tweeted.

What director extraordinaire Denis Villeneuve has done with the iconic story of humans and replicants in Blade Runner, a movie that we have all fallen in love with over the years since its release in 1982, is not to be understated. Blade Runner 2049 is quite simply a triumph, a classic just like its predecessor. Oh and it’s also one of the movies of the year.

So where to start? I’m not sure that Ryan Gosling can be in any more films that make such a splash in the public consciousness after wowing us over the last couple of years with his deft performances in The Big ShortThe Nice Guys and LA LA LAND but no, actually he can.

A case that takes him (and us) to firstly encounter Dave Bautista’s replicant Sapper Morton on the fringes of the city, leads to a Pandora’s box of questions with no easy answers. His by-the-book superior Lieutenant Joshi (a stellar Robin Wright) wants him to do his job as perfectly as he’s done since joining the force but K is increasingly conflicted by what he finds.

Morton had revealed to him that he had witnessed a miracle thirty years before and his incredible tale sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually bring K face to face with Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, the blade runner whom no one has seen since that time and who of course holds the key to the whole mystery.

But K isn’t the only one who wants to track Deckard down. The new head of replicant production, Jared Leto’s sinister Niander Wallace has a vested interest too and he sends his attack dog-like replicant Luv (a chillingly brilliant Sylvia Hoeks) in pursuit of K, knowing that sooner or later, he’ll lead her to Deckard.

The discoveries K makes in his investigations begin to affect his own existence, particularly in the life he has outside of the police force. He’s formed an emotional bond with the hologram Joi (Ana de Armas) in his apartment and these scenes are so tender that you’re reminded of the love story from the first film between Deckard and the replicant Rachael. And it’s here in the core of the film where the connections between the original and the sequel, centred on Ford’s magnificent return to one of his most celebrated roles, are where Hampton Fancher and Michael Green’s screenplay really blows you away.

But then everything about Blade Runner 2049 does that. Can someone please just give Roger Deakins an Oscar! I’ve been a fan of his unique and absolutely exquisite cinematography for a long time now. Through all the many collaborations he had with the Coen brothers – The Man Who Wasn’t There and No Country for Old Men possibly being the stand-out pictures – and then every other piece of work of his I’ve seen. The list is far too illustrious to mention here, just click on the link on his name to see how many amazing films he’s photographed. Here you just need to luxuriate in every single frame of the film he’ shot. Magnificent.

In addition to him, there’s the tremendous supporting cast of Mackenzie Davis (looking remarkably like Daryl Hannah’s Pris when she appears), the aforementioned Hoeks (with what feels a clever homage to her fellow countrymen and replicant Rutger Hauer), Barkhad Abdi and the returning Edward James Olmos. There’s Dennis Gassner’s stupendous production design and Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s deliciously hypnotic score. And let us in no way forget Denis Villeneuve, taking on surely one of the most terrifying directing jobs in trying to follow Ridley Scott’s classic. But he didn’t just follow it, he matched it and made a movie that compliments the original as well as stand tall in its own right. Bravo, sir, bravo!

Anyway, you shouldn’t need any more raving from me to go out and see this phenomenal film. Let me just finish by saying that as I sat down to watch the movie, 35 years after seeing Blade Runner, I felt an anticipation I’ve rarely experienced (only preparing to see The Force Awakens comes close) and then the excitement and elation I felt from the very first frame until the very last was immense. And when I got up to leave the cinema, all I could think of was – sometimes lighting does strike twice.

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