Film Review: Blade Runner 2049

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Thirty-five years after Ridley Scott’s original sci-fi masterpiece, Denis Villeneuve continues the story of blade runners and replicants in Blade Runner 2049. Not only is this yet another extraordinary film from Villeneuve, but an exhilarating, thought-provoking, immensely captivating film, and more than worthy of calling itself a sequel to one of the most influential sci-fi films of all time.

What makes Blade Runner 2049 such a magnificent sequel is that, while it takes place in the same universe as the original and builds upon the previously established lore, it doesn’t overly rely on call-backs to its predecessor. This is its own contained mystery thriller that happens to link with events from the previous film.  It can be appreciated by audiences whether you’ve seen the original or not.

Visually spectacular, with amazing set pieces, the film has an immaculate atmosphere of its own. Despite its colossal 163 minute running time there is not one dull moment, as the film is dripping with tension and suspense throughout. The central mystery that Ryan Gosling’s protagonist investigates is one that keeps you guessing and engaged. Just when you think you’ve figured it out it pulls the rug out from under you with a multitude of twists and turns, all of which help emphasise the film’s powerful underlying themes.

Everyone on board turns in great performances however big or small their roles and the characterisation around Gosling’s character as well as Harrison Ford’s returning Rick Deckard is so carefully and cleverly constructed that we remain on board with them as the intriguing mystery unfolds. Transitional establishing shots of the city used to build atmosphere and sense of world equal the intensity one feels during the action scenes via the electrifying soundtrack and the immense visual splendour Roger Deakins’ cinematography has to offer, creating a film that’s not only exhilarating but astoundingly immersive.

The film isn’t flawless, as it does occasionally feel the need to spell out what’s happening, even though the audience can work it out for themselves through the visuals alone. However, by creating its own sense of identity within the established universe while leaving the ambiguities of the last film intact, this really is the sequel we all hoped for: ambitious, exciting, intelligent and hauntingly atmospheric – Blade Runner 2049 is sure to be among 2017’s best films.

[Calum Cooper]

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