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Blade Runner 2049 – back to the future!

Sequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 sci-fi film is a grand achieve­ment

05 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Ryan Gosling as K in Blade Runner 2049 – the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 sci-fi film

BLADE RUNNER 2049
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Certificate: 15
☆☆☆

CINEMA is the pre-eminent form of modern art today and, in terms of visual entertainment, this is film at its pinnacle.

Every scene has a depth of design that will make you marvel at human ingenuity, both imagined and real.

The landscape of the world in 32 years’ time, when this sequel to Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 sci-fi film is set, is packed with the love children of Jobs and Gates.

The rendering of the sets and the CGI is beyond words: you could watch without the dialogue or sound and enjoy the sights served up.

K (Ryan Gosling) is an LAPD officer tasked with tracking down old replicants hiding out among the human population of a city destroyed by our greed and lack of care for our mother planet.

In an opening scene, we fly with K over a landscape of regimented fields covered in polytunnels. It looks like a future version of the Californian valleys that dragged the “Okies” west – a grotesque agri-industrial landscape.

He lands his flying cop car and enters a windswept homestead.

There is a pot of something unpleasant bubbling on an old stove but it looks otherwise without the human touch.

We then cut to a farmer who, after washing off the toxic atmosphere of his fields, enters his slum of a house.

The farmer is a first-generation replicant, and K has come to kill him: a fight ensues and just as K is set to deliver the fatal blow, the farmer asks him if he has ever seen a miracle. Before the screening I saw of this film, director Denis Villeneuve asked journalists not to include any plot spoilers, so it shall be left here. Suffice to say, K embarks on a journey to uncover a fundamental, world-changing truth about replicants, humans, and gets embroiled in plenty of action along the way.

This is more than a shoot-’em-up sequel. It asks pertinent questions. From K’s hologram of a girlfriend (Ana de Armas), who has the Pinocchio syndrome of knowing they aren’t truly “alive”, to letting us know what happened to Deckard (Harrison Ford) after the first Blade Runner, it blitzes the senses.

Above all, great sci-fi should do two things: it should offer a consideration of the human condition, and ponder the great ethical questions of the time.

It should also offer up a warning for the present from the future – Blade Runner author Philip K Dick is known for this.

Look carefully. As well as the more obvious elements of this future­scape – a world of global climate catastrophe, of the commodification of sex, of an underclass living outside the realms of an urban landscape, of an unbridgeable gulf between rich and poor, of the lack of democracy and accountability where corporations are mighty – there are more subtle ideas.

Scott’s original has become a landmark. There is a huge responsibility in making a sequel and it is a brave undertaking. Apart from a moment late on that undermined the plot arc, this is a grand achieve­ment.

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