If someone asks me, ‘name your favourite film from the past few years’, my brain automatically lands on Blade Runner 2049. My initial review of the film was a 10/10, something that surprised me at the time, considering I really didn’t get along with the original Blade Runner (bearing in mind I initially saw the Directors Cut). But 2049 absolutely blew me away, I had one of the most epic cinema experiences of my life so far and I will still gush about this film to anyone who will listen.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the original film, following the artificial human, or ‘Replicant’, K (Ryan Gosling), working as a blade runner for the LA Police Department, retiring rogue replicants. After unearthing evidence that could be potentially devastating to the order in this dystopian world, K begins to question his origins and goes in search of a retired blade runner to give him answers.
From start to finish, Blade Runner 2049 is captivating the narrative has you on the edge of your seat throughout and the visuals are so stunning it is hard to take your eyes off the screen at any point; which is enhanced by the incredible score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The elements of synth and sweeping orchestral tones add the cherry on the top of this film. I remember watching the film with this wide cityscape shot, with the score over the top and it was such a spectacle that I was sitting there with my mouth agape at what I was experiencing.
The music adds a whole new dimension to the movie it takes snippets from Vangelis’s iconic 1982 score for the original movie, creating something that feels familiar but at the same time very separate. The score has a very distinctive ‘Hans Zimmer-ness’ about it, with the signature emphasis on bass and strings that can be both terrifying and tranquil. Sea Wall the epic ten-minute ensemble encapsulates these elements beautifully and the incredible Tears in the Rain that pays a beautiful tribute to the original film never fails to make me weep.
The film has a very contemplative effect, shown in the characters themselves, but also in the environments. The sweeping landscape shots that linger, allowing you to fully take them in giving you a greater understanding of the world. The original Blade Runner felt claustrophobic, whilst 2049 gives the sense of freedom and an underlying sense of hope underneath the apparent despair on the surface.
It would be amiss not to mention the incredible leading performance from Ryan Gosling as K. His stoic nature is perfect for this film, but he adds great warmth to his portrayal of K, especially when he begins to question his nature, and you truly begin to feel for him as a replicant. The exploration of his character really drives the discourse about the ethics of creating artificial humans and gives a whole new perspective on the original film; that, whilst showing some sympathy for the rogue replicants, still paints them as dangerous and almost villainous.
I will have to mention the female characters in the movie, who I think are represented with complexity and in a way that isn’t as problematic as some may suggest. The dystopian setting of this film is one that doesn’t treat anyone particularly fairly. We see women as sex workers, as household software that replicates a housewife; but we also see a woman in charge of the LA Police Department and another who is at the right-hand of Wallace, who shows a great deal of complexity and lets not forget that a lot of the significant characters (male and female) in this film are replicants (or some sort of technology, like Joi), all made to be used by powerful and greedy humans who have created this dystopic world.
Blade Runner 2049 is possibly one of the best sequels ever made, surpassing the original by a long mile. It is at the pinnacle of sci-fi film making and shows how the genre can be both beautiful, exciting and action-packed, but also so grounded in a philosophical theme about the nature of being and creation of life. This is why Blade Runner 2049 was my film of the decade, I truly think that this film will stay in the minds of science fiction fans for decades to come.