IT’S the year 2049, in a world where androids, or replicants, co-mingle with humans in a decaying Los Angeles—a wasteland barely visible through polluted air, the hazy streets only lighted with the neon lights and holograms of the future.
In “Blade Runner 2049,” the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, LAPD cop K (Ryan Gosling) is a blade runner tasked to “retire” older-model rebellious replicants. When he arrives to kill rogue replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), it leads him to a mystery that will threaten the future.
Directed by French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario,” “Arrival”), with a screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, and loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “Blade Runner 2049” is a thing of beauty.
With a runtime of almost three hours, Villeneuve stayed loyal to the original’s mood and atmosphere. It’s a slow-burning neo-noir, plunging you deep in its retrofitted world. The pacing is leisurely, almost hypnotic. Its dystopian world fascinating and depressing; dark, squalid, and dusty, a severely worn-out world highly dependent on technology.
Villeneuve and multi-Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins capture the society’s sense of melancholy and deterioration, and K’s loneliness and existential dilemma. The dramatic contrast of light and shadow, the lighting alternating between butterscotch and gray, interspersed with glowing colors, and desert set pieces reminiscent of Burning Man make it a visual feast.
Gosling, however, can be replaced by any other actor. His eyes may well up with tears, his lips may quiver as he processes his past and his life-altering discovery. But he doesn’t connect to your soul. The women have more emotional power: the Siri-like hologram Joi (Ana de Armas), the frightening Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), and the ever competent Robin Wright as Leuitenant Joshi.
The narrative is pretty simple and absorbing. Its complex themes of genetic engineering and moral philosophy may not be intellectually stimulating, but the crime, mystery, and drama are more than enough to sustain you.
What makes “Blade Runner 2049” unforgettable is its style and visual spectacle. It’s one of the most immersive, surreal film noirs in recent history. Highly recommended in IMAX.
4 out of 5 stars
October 6, 2017 in Philippine cinemas.