The key to the future is finally unearthed.
Pulling off a sequel to Ridley Scott’s iconic sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner was always going to be a tall order. Yet Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, having shown himself a master of brainy thrills with Sicario and of even brainier sci-fi with Arrival, proves more than up to the task with the magnificent Blade Runner 2049.
Set 30 years after the action of the original, Villeneuve’s film has a new blade runner as its hero. Unlike Harrison Ford’s enigmatically ambivalent Deckard, however, Ryan Gosling’s ‘K’ is indisputably a replicant, although his mission for the police is the same as his predecessor’s: hunting down rogue replicants and ‘retiring’ them. Nonetheless, a puzzling discovery at the site of a bruising showdown with his latest synthetic human prey sends him on a cryptic quest with profound existential implications for humanity – and himself.
Like ‘K’, you will need patience and attention. Villeneuve takes his time laying out the story and is chary of revealing its mysteries (there’s no helpful voiceover to guide us, either). But there are abundant rewards for staying the course. The future world the film conjures up is stunning and haunting, as Roger Deakins’ Oscar-nominated photography captures the dystopian beauty of rain-drenched streets and smog-suffocated sky.
The characters are compelling, too. Ana de Armas as K’s holographic companion, Robin Wright as his police lieutenant boss and Sylvia Hoeks as his scarily ruthless nemesis all give striking support to Gosling’s yearning hero, while Ford conveys a suitably grizzled weariness in a reprise of his iconic role. And, on top of all this, there are cunningly planted callbacks to the first film, which will enthral fans, and keep them on their toes.
Certificate 15. Runtime 163 mins. Director Denis Villeneuve
Blade Runner 2049 is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Sony Pictures.