Story by Mark Beresford
The year 2017 for film has suffered a trending fate – immense anticipation, social media hype and trailer ramping has set many ablaze to crumble under the weight of their own expectations as observed with earlier releases such as Alien Covenant or The Dark Tower.
From the very moment that the scrupulous detail and visual masterpiece of director Denis Villeneuve floods the cinema, it becomes immediately clear that Blade Runner 2049 is not cohering to any expectation or preconceived notions that have been set upon it, instead evolving from its source universe in a brilliantly rich and thought provoking manner that blazes far beyond the potential of what we believed it to be.
Drawing further from the origin story of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, 2049 sets an intense storyline that immerses almost instantaneously with powerful purpose inside of its dialogue and emotional tones. Interweaving the ethical and moral conflict of artificial intelligence lacking humanity, programming vs reality, and hierarchal surveillance building paranoia and self-doubt that is posed within the constructs of every character.
The ambiguous dichotomy of humans and replicants is explored perfectly by a small yet stellar cast led by Ryan Gosling in a stand out performance as LAPD agent ‘K’.
Each set feels like a landscape unto its own and pushes the envelope of the undoubting further world around it. Projected against the stark dystopian dustbowl environment, the film still grasps the original cyberpunk niche with the misery and depression of an immense compressed cityscape under the cloud and rain, clashing to a futuristic and wonderfully thought out costume design.
The interesting combination of composers Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer marries perfectly throughout, mixing the synth driven eighties pastiche and industrial sampling of Wallfisch with the grand scale of Zimmer. Each scene is complimented well without diverting attention, whilst Villeneuve’s use of deafening silence during action sequences demands urgent tension from seemingly nowhere, played in juxtaposition against a meticulously crafted score.
The intense detail, subtle nuances and constant questioning that is interwoven into every aspect of this film really does require a certain level of unknown and mindful attention to be fully enjoyed. The viewer is led into a false sense of knowing constantly with misdirects and red herrings, it reveals the plot in such a way that is so cleverly and gradually exposed you find yourself having lightbulb moments for scenes long after the curtains are drawn.
Much like many classic sci-fi flicks, the lengthy running time and overflowing sequences mean that several revisions will likely be in order to fully appreciate certain moments and are probable to uncover further previously unseen facets. In a time where so much of a movie can be revealed through digital or promotional means months before it reaches cinema screens, Blade Runner 2049 has attempted to not just counterbalance this organically, but has also cultivated a movie that can stand independently alongside its predecessor.
Pic via Sony Pictures