October 6, 2017

CINEMA | Ryan Gosling Outruns 'Blade Runner 2049'

Ryan Gosling Denis Villeneuve | Blade Runner 2049

Idiosyncratic filmmaker Denis Villeneuve takes on Philip K. Dick's storied material in his legacy sequel to Ridley Scott's dystopian sci-fi neo noir classic, Blade Runner, thirty-five years later and now starring Ryan Gosling as the lead replicant hunter. Blade Runner 2049 proves itself to be an almost equally bleak but highly stylish and coldly beautiful film full of ideas.

The sequel is sprawling and contemplative in its moodiness further exploring the nature of humanity, free will, and enslavement. Gosling seems like an ideal contemporary vessel for this updated vision of a dark near-future. His LAPD Detective K character broods and evokes a mysterious charm mirroring Harrison Ford's Deckard slyly. His investigation into a particular replicant death propels the storyline forward eventually leading to a meeting with Deckard, played by a gruff as ever Ford, trying to figure a certain true identity.

There are only a few characters in the film as the future seems to be populated by only a handful of people. Jared Leto is used just the right amount, i.e., very sparingly, as the new manufacturer of replicants with his own god complex. Mackenzie DavisRobin Wright, Ana de Armas, and Dave Bautista round out the acerbic cast of players who add to the film's pervasive moodiness. Standout Sylvia Hoeks is particularly captivating, brutal, and wholly physical in her villainess role hunting and stalking K.

Ryan Gosling Denis Villeneuve | Blade Runner 2049

The script from original co-screenwriter Hampton Fancher and Michael Green dissects similar themes with somewhat less nuance or subtlety. All the elements together make the film a complex work of precise artistry. The imagery, ideas, performances, and technological references play on our current attitudes about innovation and losing humanity.

Hands down, legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins' incredible visual language is the best reason to see the film on the largest screen possible. Every shot is brimming with breathtaking, saturated colours heightened by the booming but sparse musical score from Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.

Villeneuve and Gosling have made Blade Runner 2049 into a mostly very worthy, contemplative follow-up to Scott's near-future, sci-fi classic. It replicates the original's formula in many different, diverging but parallel ways that hearken back to the original. However, it's just not quite the same. Its deliberately slow, contemplative pace doesn't quite earn the big, lofty ideals it tries to express in a nearly three-hour run time.

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