Review: Blade Runner 2049, sci-fi at its best and one of the films of the year

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049 - Credit: Archant

Thirty five years after the seminal original, Blade Runner director Ridley Scott hands the reigns to French Canadian filmmaker Denis Vilneuve for this long awaited sequel.

This time, the story focuses on Ryan Gosling’s agent K, a Blade Runner tasked with hunting down and eliminating artificially created humans or replicants that have gone rogue. When one investigation leads him to cross paths with Harrison Ford’s, Rick Deckard the film delicately begins to intertwine with the 1982 original.

Gosling is a master of portraying the internalised emotions of his characters and is mesmerising as the conflicted K, an officer used to following instructions without question, who begins to doubt the orders of his superior, Lieutenant Joshi, portrayed excellently by the ageless Robin Wright.

Villains of the piece are Jared Leto’s Nihander Wallace, head of a shadowy corporation and his replicant enforcer Luv played brilliantly by Sylvia Hoeks who gives the character a real sense of threat.

Leto received criticism for his overblown performance as the Joker in last year’s Suicide Squad, But he deserves credit here for a beautifully understated turn as the mysterious Wallace.

Director Vileneuve is one of film’s hottest properties at the moment after helming last year’s Oscar nominated Arrival. Blade Runner 2049 will only help to enhance that reputation.

Working once again with acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins and with a script by Hampton Fancher who wrote the 1982 original, Vileneuve creates an expansive vision of the future. From snowy distopian wastelands to bustling neon cityscapes, the film is wonderfully crafted and coupled with Hans Zimmer’s haunting score this makes for an immersive experience.

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The film does not rush at any point and takes its time to feel its way through the story, in fact the overall vibe of the film is one so similar to the original that Vileneuve’s affection and respect for Ridley Scott’s original is clear.

At nearly three hours long, the film’s slow pace may not be to everyone’s taste and is sure to divide audiences, however lovers of the genre willing to invest their time in this film will be richly rewarded.

This is dark, atmospheric sci-fi, the genre at its very best and undoubtedly one of the films of the year.