Blade Runner 2049: Film Review

With sequels, there is always that concern about whether the second instalment with tarnish the reputation of the first, especially one so well-loved as Blade Runner. It was certainly a risk with Blade Runner 2049, which comes 35 years after the original, but luckily they have waited that long to make sure they have created something that is loyal to its predecessor and builds upon its success. No easy feat.

Before our screening, a statement from director Denis Villeneuve was read out in which he asked us to keep plot details quiet and I will honour that. It is hard to say anything without going into spoiler territory so all you need to know is that it stars Ryan Gosling as a LAPD officer who uncovers a secret that could change the relationship between humans and replicants forever and on his mission, he comes across old blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) who has been in hiding for years.

I cannot overstate how visually stunning this is. Every shot is beautiful and carefully designed. The original pushed the envelope with sci-fi world-building, and this is no different. This time it has the help of better CGI to create these awe-inducing environments and bring to life crazy sci-fi ideas. I will be amazed if this doesn’t receive technical nominations for production design, visual effects and cinematography, as well as original score, which is amazing.

Gosling basically carries the whole movie, which is a lot of responsibility, and does it well. His performance wasn’t anything particularly amazing but he has so much to do so he deserves some praise. Ford isn’t in it as much as you would think but has more emotional heavy-lifting while also getting an opportunity to fight alongside Gosling. He’s getting pretty old now but he’s still got it. Other supporting cast members include Sylvia Hoeks, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista, but some of their identities are best kept secret.

I think people who love, love, love the first one will eat this up entirely but as someone who doesn’t adore it (so sue me) I did found it too slow-moving at times. It takes a while to get going and Gosling and Ford aren’t exactly chatty so some scenes move along at a glacial pace. It is 2 hours and 45 minutes and luckily it didn’t feel that long, but the pace was a bit too leisurely for my taste. The story was rich, deep and powerful but didn’t have enough twists and turns to warrant such a run time.

This is a worthy instalment in the Blade Runner franchise and I imagine fans of the original will love it. There are plenty of references to the previous, shocking new revelations and a similar-but-improved look. It is stunning, the story and actors are great and although it is slow, there is a major payoff at the end to make the run time worthwhile.

In cinemas Thursday 5th October 

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