Blade Runner 2049
dir Denis Villeneuve
scr Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
prd Broderick Johnson, Andrew A Kosove, Bud Yorkin
with Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Dave Bautista, Hiam Abbass, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi
release US/UK 5.Oct.17
17/UK Columbia 2h43
Blade Runner 2049
Into the gloom: de Armas and Gosling

ford wright leto
See also:
Blade Runner (1982)
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Blade Runner 2049 An epic scale makes this long-awaited sequel a feast for the eyes, while a grim tone plays on the emotions as the story twists and turns in surprisingly internalised directions. All of this is infused with intelligence and artistry by director Denis Villeneuve, who creates an atmosphere so grave that it almost wears the audience out. But the film is refreshingly free from requisite action set-pieces and hackneyed plotting.

It's been 30 years, and earth's environment has collapsed, but blade runners like K (Gosling) still hunt down rogue human-like replicants. Then on one mission, he discovers a skeleton of a replicant that apparently gave birth, so K's boss (Wright) assigns him to sort this out. The problem is that Wallace (Leto), head of the monolithic organisation that controls technology, needs to find the child, so he sends henchwoman Luv (Hoeks) to chase K and his virtual girlfriend Joi (de Armas) as they track down long-lost blade runner Deckard (Ford), hiding in radioactive Las Vegas.

The story traverses a variety of stunning landscapes, from desert to snow to rain to a torrential flood. Urban settings range from bustling to abandoned, and there's a steady stream of visual surprises. But Villeneuve and screenwriters Fancher and Green keep the attention finely in the eyes of the characters, letting their emotions gurgle to the surface even as they try to conceal them. And clever revelations give us continual insight into their inner lives.

The actors have remarkable control, visibly wrestling with their thoughts. Gosling is understandably cold as the all-business cop, but this case opens lots of personal baggage. His scenes with de Armas bristle with romantic hopefulness. And he and Ford are tetchy and enjoyably blustering. Meanwhile, Hoeks is terrific as the tenacious villain, while Leto creates a seriously menacing Mr Big. Side characters all register strongly, including cameos from the original cast.

Thematically, the story again plays with identity and memory, as characters ponder both who they really are and whether their recollections are reliable. These ideas lend depth to each scene, keeping it from being just another action blockbuster. There are no chase scenes, for example, and the superficial style of noir police procedural is undermined by a narrative that veers sharply along the way. But of course it's the film's depiction of the near future, mixing retro coolness and whizzy sci-fi gadgetry with real-world issues, that makes the film feel almost startlingly relevant.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 2.Oct.17

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