Blade Runner 2049: Visually pioneering and epic
Denis Villeneuve has established himself as one of the most high-profile directors in the $50m budget range, making remarkable films that strike for artistry and weight. Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival had many things in common but none had to deal with a great deal of pressure. Similarly to Christopher Nolan with Batman Begins, Villeneuve now had to face the arduous path of imprinting his style on a world and characters known (and loved) by many.
Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel of Ridley Scott’s classic 1982 sci-fi, set 30 years later than the original story, in the same dystopian Los Angeles. The protagonist of the saga is now officer K (Ryan Gosling) who, like Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, is a blade runner: a police agent in charge of finding and retiring (i.e. killing) replicants (android identical to humans). Whilst on a case, K discovers something that triggers an absorbing, edge-of-your-seat noir-style investigation.
Villeneuve’s visually pioneering slow, majestic wide shots make this sci-fi picture even more epic than the first. It was hard to imagine how long-time collaborator Jóhann Jóhannsson would approach the score given his minimalistic approach. The closest thing to Vangelis (the composer of Blade Runner) I’ve heard in years were the synthesisers in Dunkirk‘s finale, and that was exactly the same sound of Blade Runner 2049. Unsurprisingly, it turned out the French Canadian director parted ways with Jóhannsson and asked Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk‘s composer) to take over a few weeks before the release. The result is as spectacular as both fans and cinephiles wanted.
The performance of Ryan Gosling reminds of the impressive work he did on Drive: very few words, a sorrowful face and lukewarm body language. He fits the dystopian setting with perfect understatement. We saw Harrison Ford in a not-too-different situation in 2015 with the The Force Awakens. His return to Deckard’s shoes is a bit corny but – like for Star Wars – it was necessary.
Blade Runner 2049 is an instant classic, consistent with the 1982 masterpiece (including the unashamed product placement) and will certainly be remembered not only as a sci-fi standard but also the beginning of blockbuster-size films for auteur Denis Villeneuve.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Blade Runner 2049 is released nationwide on 5th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for Blade Runner 2049 here: