Photo: Slash Film
Photo: Slash Film
Thirty Five years later the sequel to Ridley Scott’s genius, Blade Runner, finds itself back on the big screen in Blade Runner 2049 catering to an all new generation of viewers, who may or may not be conscious of the effects and cult following of the 1982 original. It is wise to see the first movie before diving into the 2 hour and 40 minute long sequel, to fully appreciate the beauty and importance of the film.
Photo: Slash Film
In the sequel, Ryan Gosling (Officer K) is part of a new breed of Replicants (human-looking robots, created to make life easier for humans) who are hunting down their more emotional, unstable predecessors into “retirement” (in BR terms, refers to the complete wipe out of old models, functioning or not). On a clean-up mission Officer K finds a deep-seated secret that his superior Lieutenant Joshi (played by Robin Wright) believes shall impose a damaging impact unto the world. To make sure everything is kept in order, Officer K is led to Harrison Ford’s character, (Rick Deckard, the original Blade Runner) and realizes that as he keeps pursuing the case in hopes of a greater cause, what lies ahead of the assignment is an even bigger truth waiting to be unveiled.
Photo: Slash Film
I have seen the first film twice and have loved how deep and philosophical Ridley Scott’s work is. It has influenced fashion, art, music and even film for what it has shown visually and even in the way film makers and story tellers approach a sci-fi story. In the guise of a glittering, rainy, neon-lit future set in 2019, it was quite unexpected to find a soul and lessons, despite its cold and hopeless “future”. The first film was busier, more crowded but laced with intimate and soft moments that balanced out the edge of a sci-fi film. When tied up in the end with a beating heart for a story, Blade Runner is quite the sense full to take in and it stays with you.
It truly helps to have seen the first one, especially when this year’s sequel is so heavily reliable on where Scott’s work left off back in 1982. While Blade Runner 2049 is dressed as elegantly as the first one, Denis Villeneuve (also the director of Arrival, Sicario and Prisoners) stretches aerial shots, establishes light and color and geometric proportions unto the expanse of the screen, to fill up the overall quiet one senses throughout the movie. Less crowded and less “chatty” compared to the original, when you get in too deep, feeling lonely and alone is a natural reaction to the film. However, its beauty is the progress you see in their world, especially if you’ve watched the first movie. How Replicants too have changed, how Los Angeles looks different than how it did back then and also how much harder it is to tell if a character is man-made or a child of God.
Ryan Gosling wins over the audience in a wardrobe worthy of continuous saving-for reference and is also so controlled and comfortable in his role that it feels as if he took a step back to give way to his character. Harrison Ford, even at his age, is so commendable, strong and not once fails to bring back to life his much-loved Rick Deckard from the 80s. When these two characters share scenes together it’s magnetic, powerful and you would wish for more of them together. Jared Leto also comes in as a force of a character in the few scenes he’s given. It is the female characters, though, that may have lacked bone and substance in this film. Despite stellar performances from Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks and Anna De Armas, if women wish to seek a Charlize Theron in Mad Max here, then this might not be the film for you.
Box office ticket sales during its opening weekend show slow numbers and it might be because of the cult following the first movie has: very few people have seen and fallen in love with the original. You’ll usually hear chatter about Blade Runner from hardcore film buffs, sci-fi fans or even a few from the generation who witnessed the first one debut. In a world currently facing fears, challenges and uncertainty, sometimes even an A-list cast backed up with millions in production, telling an adult-themed, philosophical story, is not the kind of cinematic escape people would want to go to as well.
But it’s also this same blood which fuels the film’s beauty. Just as the first movie had successfully laid out the questions and possibilities of a future high on tech and low on humanity, Blade Runner 2049 shines the brightest in the quietest of moments, in existential, brooding scenes where Ryan Gosling uncovers things that question his purpose, truth and reality.
In the end Blade Runner 2049 is a great story. It runs deeps just as it visually makes you dream and imagine of a future not so far away. When you’ve finally watched the first movie, you’ll find yourself smiling over the little easter eggs planted in the sequel and you’ll end up closing questions the first one left open, only to ask more -- and hope for more. It could do with a shorter running time and could have given the women more impact, but nothing could tarnish the depth, horror and also beauty of Blade Runner’s philosophy.
Written By: Gerard Gotladera