It’s not every day you get to see the moment a director goes from being great to becoming legendary. With Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve has proven – if the likes of Arrival and Sicario weren’t enough – that he’s one of the best directors in the world right now.
His direction may be classical – restrained and elegantly composed – but his visuals are from another world. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins is unparalleled working in the shadows, helping Villeneuve to keep a shroud of mystery over every step of the plot, but he’s even better when he lets loose, scorching the screen with a radioactive orange desert wasteland.
Blade Runner 2049 is comfortably the best looking film of the year, with environments so astonishing and lived-in that it feels like the crew actually travelled into this dystopian future, strewn with the detritus of people’s lives, and started filming.
So what of the plot, kept to the bare minimum in trailers? Like its predecessor, it’s probably best you know as little as possible. Besides, so much of the film’s appeal is in its mood. This is a slow film, offering few easy answers, whose power is in what’s left unsaid as much as anything else.
Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have crafted a script of sparse simplicity and novelistic complexity that develops the original’s themes ingeniously. Harrison Ford is ferocious in his short but powerful appearance, but Ryan Gosling carries the film in one of his best performances to date. He is heartbreaking, resolute, and so desperately lost.
In the end, amongst all the smoke and mirrors, Blade Runner 2049 tries to answer that simple, terrifying question: what is the meaning of life? Imagine being told all your life that it’s nothing, you mean nothing, and then no: just maybe you do.
CAST: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Robin Wright
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
WRITERS: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green (screenplay), Philip K. Dick (characters from novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”)
SYNOPSIS: Thirty years after the events of 1982’s Blade Runner, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, who has been missing for 30 years.