Movie Review: 'Blade Runner 2049' is a future classic

The 'Blade Runner' sequel nails the sci-fi noir and tech-noir atmosphere combo, writes Tymon Smith

14 October 2017 - 00:00
'Blade Runner 2049' remains true to the noirish philosophical atmosphere of the original 1982 film.
'Blade Runner 2049' remains true to the noirish philosophical atmosphere of the original 1982 film.
Image: Supplied

When Ridley Scott's Blade Runner was released in 1982 it was a slow burner - nobody quite knew what to make of it. Based on a book by Phillip K Dick, it dealt with a future - 2019 - in which humans had expanded life beyond Earth thanks to the slave labour of human-like creations called replicants, some of whom had gained too many human characteristics for society's liking and were slated for "retirement" by special police called Blade Runners.

In the 35 years since its release, Blade Runner - the story of replicant hunter Rick Deckard and his love for a replicant - has defined the way we represent our future on screen and how we define the thin line between our humanity and the versions of it we create.

So it's with some trepidation that the idea of a sequel to such a seminal piece of popular culture should be approached. The creation of the world of Blade Runner, 30 years later in the year 2049, has been left to Dennis Villeneuve, the director of Sicario and Arrival.

The sequel is an ambitious, epic and visually spectacular continuation of its source material that remains true to the noirish philosophical atmosphere of the original.

Thirty years after Deckard ran off with Sean Young's replicant, the world has been ravaged by a nuclear event and humanity survives off a system of artificial farms in a landscape of grey, drenched in continuous rain.

WATCH the trailer for Blade Runner 2049

Replicants have been improved to obey all commands, without the ability to question or rebel. There are, however, those old models who live on the outskirts trying to evade the authorities. Replicant Blade Runners such as Agent K (Ryan Gosling) are tasked with "retiring" these older models and during one of these missions K discovers a case of bones that will lead him on a journey that threatens society.

It will also lead him back to Deckard (Harrison Ford) and set him on the run from a vicious female upgrade of Rutger Hauer's superhuman replicant in the original - her name is Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) and she kicks serious ass in the service of her boss Niander Wallace, the godlike creator of modern replicants.

All of which is the scaffolding for Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch to stitch together a truly impressive piece of gloomy, intelligently created sci-fi noir.

There may never be a film quite like the first Blade Runner but there will also never be one quite like its sequel.