It’s rare in this profession to say something is a masterpiece. No matter how many films you’ll see in a year, a month, even a week, the chances of seeing one are minute. This brings me to the topic of this review, Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the cult hit Blade Runner. Brought to us by director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) and starring Ryan Gosling (Officer K) and Harrison Ford ( returning to his role of Rick Deckard) Blade Runner 2049 is set 30 years after the events of Blade Runner and that is all I will tell you about the story because I would be doing a disservice to the story that Denis Villeneuve and the writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have crafted so lovingly. What I will recommend is you watch the three prequel shorts that are on YouTube as they will set the stage for Blade Runner 2049.
And what a stunning stage it is, cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Denis Villeneuve have built on the foundations of what came before and have crafted a stunning new world. Even tying dangling plot threads together that were left at the end of Blade Runner. Everything is more extravagant, the colours lusher and vibrant while the drab and decrepit elements are all the more disheartening. It’s a visual treat and you’ll want to watch Blade Runner 2049 again simply to get another chance to take in all the sumptuous imagery. Coupled with the outstanding cinematography and direction is a score brought to us by Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) and Benjamin Wallfisch (It, Annabelle: Creation, A Cure for Wellness) and this partnership creates a score that penetrates the audience giving a sense of tension that keeps you on edge for almost 90% of the film. This adds to the sense of danger that the characters feel throughout the entire film and keeps you engaged as you’re never sure who will live and who will die when this story comes to its inevitable climax.
On the subject of the characters, they are all quite fleshed out, especially if you’ve watched the shorts beforehand, Gosling brings his awkward charm to K but beneath that aloofness there’s a deep well of emotion that comes out a handful of times in the film and it’s incredible when it happens. Ford’s return as Deckard is a welcome one and he’s clearly relishing the chance to return to this character giving possibly his best performance in recent years. The supporting cast is filled with notable highlights such as Ana de Armas who plays Joi a constant companion to K who has an unyielding sense of loyalty and then there’s femme fatale Luv played by Sylvia Hoeks who is K’s rival. She is every bit as potent a combatant as him but also a far more dangerous individual due to the way she has been raised.
This brings me to the “villain” of the piece, Wallace played by method man Jared Leto. Wallace is a fascinating individual, he’s a new kind of evil but is still rooted in the traditions of old, he believes the only way that man can better himself is through the sacrifice of other beings, in his eyes the replicants and it is this mindset that has driven him his whole life. Wallace is seen rarely in the film but when he is on screen his presence is profound, this is due to internal and external forces, for example, Leto decided that for the entirety of his scenes he would be blind to add a layer of authenticity to the role, also the script and Leto’s acting give another disturbing layer to the plot of the film that will be lost on no one once they see Blade Runner 2049. If there are any issues it would be the plot can be convoluted and there is the possibility you’ll get lost toward the tail end of the film not only that Leto skirts the line of masterful and ridiculous at times these are minor quibbles, however.
I’m happy to conclude the review with this, Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece and you have to see it so that you can experience it too, and if you’re lucky enough, see it in IMAX. It is an experience like no other, and it will leave your heart racing when all is said and done.