Blade Runner 2049 – Movie Review

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison, Ford, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto and Dave Bautista.

It’s been thirty years since Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young) made their escape from the dystopian Los Angeles of director Ridley Scott’s original 1982 classic, Blade Runner. In their absence, the city has continued to thrive – a bombardment of ever more sophisticated multi-media intrusion, with little chance of escape. Outside the city walls lies the ruined world – a mix of radioactivity, nuclear winter, ferocious icy seas and devastation as far as one can travel. The middle and upper classes have gone off-world, leaving the indigent, indolent and criminal to the bleak remains. They survive with the help of a new breed of replicants, more human-like than the 2019 originals and less likely to harm humans. But the blade runner is still the LAPD’s most effective weapon against errant replicants, especially the remaining rebellious originals who caused a massive data blackout, erasing their identities and tracking information.

Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049

Ryan Gosling is ‘K,’ a blade runner returning from what appeared to be an ordinary mission to destroy a replicant who had been living quietly as a protein farmer. Having completed his task, he discovers a clue to an old case, which opens a Pandora’s Box to the past and a secret so dangerous, his boss police Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) is afraid it will destroy the world. K sets out to resolve it, but finds himself drawn into a mind-numbing spiral of deception and betrayal and just what does it even mean to be human?

This is one flick where you really don’t want spoilers. The multi-layered script is astonishingly detailed and peopled with beautifully nuanced characters – K’s virtual companion Joi (Ana de Armas) exists solely to love him and bring warmth to his life. Jared Leto, in a slightly underused role as Niander Wallace, creator of the replicants might be the perfect monster. And Harrison Ford returns as Deckard, thirty years on, still unfinished, still the blade runner.

Harrison Ford as Deckard in Blade Runner 2049

This impeccably acted story is set in a mind-blowing mix of constructed sets and CGI unlike anything that’s come before. And it’s just so BIG! Watching it on the IMAX screen I had the urge to pause the movie, just so I could examine all the detail. The landscapes almost defy description, a whole world recreated in the smallest detail, including some ravishingly cool transport. The interior designs are equally stunning with lighting that literally breathes life into the walls. Then there is the soundtrack – I had wondered where it would go after Vangelis’ beautiful compositions for the 1982 original. Composers Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer have created a post-industrial wall of sound, engrossing and immersive, sucking you firmly into its soundscape from the opening shot until the credits roll.

Director Denis Villeneuve has delivered a pretty much perfect movie here. Go see it on the biggest screen you can find. In fact, go see it twice – once for the story and again for the sheer joy of the visual and aural experience.

Veronica McLaughlin

Watch the trailer here: