by Lachlan Anderson
Rated MA15+. Starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling. Directed by Denis Villeneuve.
When Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was released in 1982 it was not met with universal acclaim, and took some time and several renewed versions to become the staple of science fiction cinema that it is today. It’s even now a standard high school English text in Australia. So it’s not so surprising that the sequel, Blade Runner 2049 is only just now in theatres, 35 years later. The new film by director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) and produced by Ridley Scott also jumps the action forward about 30 years.
Officer KD6-3.7 (Gosling) is a Blade Runner: a police officer tasked with hunting and disposing of rogue replicants, bioengineered humans that are used as a slave labour force among other things. In the line of duty he unearths a mystery that could have potentially world shattering implications.
Needless to say, if you haven’t seen Blade Runner, you should probably quickly go watch it now, not only because it’s a great film but also because 2049 carries on the story of the first, without really bothering to explain to you the backstory. The sequel is also in many ways a spiritual successor to the first. It’s a slow burner of a movie, focusing heavily on mood and tone instead of all out action. Visually it is even better than the first. Master cinematographer Roger Deakins is on fine form and visuals like the orangey haze of future Las Vegas will stick with you.
If any criticism can be made it is that, like the first film, the pace meanders too often and so audiences will likely feel the length of the film. Unsurprisingly a film with so many ideas to ponder takes a while to get to the point.
Both Blade Runner films are reflections on what it is to be human. What sets us apart and gives us meaning? Can we trust memory? The truth?
For the replicants of that world, these are not easy questions to answer, and they lead to inevitable violence. For us, we need look no further than two points in history. The first at the beginning of time, when the creator of the universe made humans in his image and gave them rule over the world he had created. Then on an early afternoon one day about two-thousand years ago that same God willingly died so his creation could be saved. We are made with love and given purpose, and our value is beyond precious to the one who died for us.
The Verdict: After 35 years Blade Runner returns, and the sequel doesn’t disappoint. Visually stunning, reflective and moody with just enough action to keep you excited. Despite its slow pace this is a real cinematic experience worth seeing on a big screen. It’s unlike most blockbusters you’ll see this year, and we’re thankful for it. 4.5/5
Blade Runner 2049 is in cinemas now.