Release: 5th February 2017
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
Blade Runner was never the sort of film that one imagined would ever generate an official sequel. Yes, in-spite of the endless fan fiction, computer games and novelisations; for all intents and purposes, Ridley Scott’s dreary sci-fi noir was done and dusted when Roy Batty whispered his dying words. Yet here we are, some 30 plus years later talking about Rick Deckard once more.
So was it worth the wait? Well yes and no. Blade Runner 2049 has many saving graces. It has a great director in Denis Villeneuve, a tremendous cinematographer in Roger Deakins, breathtaking production design by Dennis Gassner and a stellar first act. What is doesn’t have is a sense of pace or purpose. Here is a film that spends so much time pussyfooting about, dipping in and out of a fruitless love story, that ‘headline’ star Harrison Ford doesn’t make an appearance for well over two thirds of the film. Yet somehow it only finds all of five minutes for Jared Leto’s sorely undercooked Niander Wallace. In terms of philosophy, the film also treads a very familiar path to its predecessor without adding any more thought to the mix, with little depth. This creates an artifice of sophistication that soon proves itself to be as translucent as hologram Joi.
It is impossible not to be blown away by this film, however, as the world building is phenomenal. Rich blacks, sharp whites and a gorgeous orange and gold fill, means that Blade Runner 2049 is constant nourishment for the eyes. The sets are amazing, the soundscape is other worldly, and Ryan Gosling’s robotic (pardon the pun) ‘K’ is a keen reminder of his Drive days; apparently very at home in the Blade Runner universe. The film is also extremely dense in tone. Blade Runner 2049 is a monstrous zeppelin of brooding angst and oppressive hopelessness; with Wallfisch and Zimmer’s score going some way to further this.
There are moments of genius (Sapper Morton presents some of the film’s only unique themes) and great set pieces (Elvis is IN the building), but the final 30 minutes come 20 minutes too late and fail to deliver on the promises made prior. None of this is to say that Blade Runner 2049 is a bad film by any rights, but anyone expecting highbrow science fiction won’t necessarily find what they are looking for here. Instead, this is a – highly effective – exercise in aesthetic and tone.
In spite of the film’s few surprises, one of note is Sylvia Hoeks. Her Luv is a modern Roy Batty. If Rutger Hauer stole the original picture, then this one is often at risk of belonging to Hoeks. Batty’s eyes may have seen things we wouldn’t believe, but Luv’s project a cool horror you couldn’t imagine.
Film Grade: B-
For those willing to spend the extra pennies, there is a limited edition 2-disc version of the film that comes with additional special features. But for the rest of us there is a 20 minute whistlestop tour of the Making Of, that proves fairly informative, a series of EPKs that function as Blade Runner 101 and three Prequel Films – Nexus Dawn being by far the most rewarding.
Special Features Grade: C+
Hardly a disappointment, but Blade Runner 2049 is the sort of experience that needs to be had a few times before its merits present themself.