Ryan Gosling plays an LAPD officer heading for an encounter with Harrison Fords Deckard in a film whose sheer scale leaves you hyperventilating
With this visually staggering film, director Denis Villeneuve brings us to a kind of Ozymandias moment. It just has to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. Blade Runner 2049 is a narcotic spectacle of eerie and pitiless vastness, by turns satirical, tragic and romantic.
This is the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic, directed by Ridley Scott and based on Philip K Dicks novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, starring Harrison Ford as a blade runner, a futureworld cop whose job is to track down and kill disobedient almost-human androids known as replicants. The 2017 follow-up simply couldnt be any more of a triumph: a stunning enlargement and improvement.
Its mind-boggling, cortex-wobbling, craniofacial-splintering images are there to trigger awe or even a kind of ecstatic despair at the idea of a post-human future, and what it means to imagine the wreck of our current form of homo sapiens. Evolution has not finished yet, any more than it was finished 100,000 years ago. As so often in literature and cinema, we are reminded that science fiction is there to tackle big ideas, and makes realist genres look flimsy and parochial. This film delivers pure hallucinatory craziness that leaves you hyperventilating.
Blade Runner 2049 is co-scripted by the original screenwriter, Hampton Fancher, and riffs on the first film. There are poignant theme-variations on memory and crying in the rain and a cityscape full of signs in different languages (Russian, Japanese, Hindi, Korean), ghostly VR advertising avatars and flashing corporate logos, playfully including the obsolete PanAm.
It alludes to films the first Blade Runner helped inspire, such as Camerons The Terminator, Spielbergs AI Artificial Intelligence, Nolans The Dark Knight, Andrew Stantons WALL-E and Spike Jonzes Her. The references reach further back also, to the Kubrickian hotel-bar and spaceship, and to the desolate final moments of Planet of the Apes. You could call that ancestor-worship, were it not that the franchise already deserves its own ancestor status. In fact, the sequel slightly de-emphasises the first films intimate, downbeat noir qualities in favour of something more gigantic and monolithic, preserving Ridley Scotts massively controlled andante tempo. Yet there is something so sinuous and manoeuvrable about the drama, and its CGI rendering is like nothing Ive ever seen.