Today: February 22, 2024

Blade Runner 2049

Within a matter of minutes of the opening of Blade Runner 2049 you sense this film has captured the essence of the original film. From the close-up of an eye, a vast, sprawling vista of a dystopian future and a world seeped in noirish ambiguity, this is Blade Runner to a tee. But, with one key difference, while capturing the bleak outlook of the original there is light at the end of this existential maze of a sci-fi. Literal daylight. Because unlike the original film 2049 actually contains more than rain and darkness, there is a slither of hope etched into the outermost seams of one of the most staggering tapestries to be put on the big screen in a long time.

Set 30 years after the original film 2049 follows a similar narrative. A Blade Runner (Ryan Gosling) is assigned to track down and ‘retire’ a rogue group of ‘skinjobs’. But hidden within the conspiracy as to what these Replicants are running from is a deeper, darker mystery that will lead our protagonist on a journey of self discovery. Through the murky dealings of a planet creating corporation headed by a god-complex leader (Jared Leto) all the way to a hermit of a man who used to do his job and might just have the answers to some of those big questions (Harrison Ford).

How do you make a sequel to one of the most loved and seminal pieces of science fiction cinema? What Ridley Scott created back in 1982, hot on the heels of his other sci-fi masterpiece Alien, was a game changer. It took the ideals of a film noir and set them in a world where asking what it is to be human is everything. Scott didn’t just tell a story with Blade Runner, he created a universe, a tangible, future-gazing world that felt all too possible and all too terrifying. Any person willing to try to follow such a feat would have to have thick skinjob levels of ability.

Step forward Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve. If there was any doubt as to this man being one of the hottest properties in directing right now then Blade Runner 2049 puts those doubts to rest. The film he has created is staggering, at times jaw-dropping and, most importantly, every bit the equal to Scott’s. Because what Villeneuve has done is take Scott’s ideas and aesthetics and update them in such a way as to take nothing away from them but layer them, enrich them and ultimately evolve them as to build on the original film.

There really is only one other filmmaker who springs to mind who has achieved such a thing tackling a sequel to a beloved film not originally his own. Ironically, or perhaps as fate would have it, that is James Cameron with Aliens, the sequel to Scott’s aforementioned Alien. Blade Runner 2049 is that rare beast, a sequel that never tries to one-up the original but rather takes the ideas and builds upon them to crowd pleasing levels. Like Aliens, Blade Runner 2049 builds upon the original. But it never feels like an ode to the original. Indeed, while a knowledge of Blade Runner is highly recommended – you will take much more from the experience if you have seen the original – it is not a necessity. And that is a powerful sentiment.

Because Blade Runner 2049 is that almost extinct filmic experience. A big budget film that actually has something to say and, don’t tell Hollywood, has the audacity to ask questions of the audience on an intellectual and spiritual level. This is perfectly captured through Gosling’s performance. Like in Drive Gosling refuses to be anything other than a blank canvas. A blank canvas upon which the ambiguity and audience are allowed to project a spectrum of emotions so powerful that by the end you will find yourself almost as battered and battle-born as his Blade Runner. Just as Harrison Ford’s original Rick Deckard was hard to read so Gosling is intentionally po-faced. It adds to the mystery, it textualizes the thumping heart at the centre of the film and it allows for an exploration of the human soul beyond what was briefly touched upon in the original film. And that is saying something.

You won’t see another film this beautiful and majestic this year, and you won’t see a big budget film that will dare to have you feeling this many emotions probably ever again. Blade Runner 2049 proves that sometimes sequels need to percolate over the years until a filmmaker who worships the original enough comes along to want to do it justice. Films like this are why cinema is great.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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