BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Review *****

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When Blade Runner came out in 1982, it was a flop at the box office. No one at the time could have guessed that, with time, Ridley Scott’s noir dystopia would become a sci-fi cult classic, with several versions (we honestly lost count) and with a much awaited and hyped sequel, delivered to the big screen 35 years later by Arrival’s director Dennis Villeneuve.

After the collapse of Tyrell corporation and a 10-day blackout that erased most of the data banks, the world hasn’t changed that much to the better. A new corporation has taken over, developing better, more obedient replicants. One of them – Officer K, of the LAPD (Ryan Gosling), aka Blade Runner – hunts older models to “retire” them. But when he stumbles upon a secret that forces him to look for ex-Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford), he starts wondering if there’s more to life than being a ridiculous obedient good robot.

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Villeneuve has clearly decided to slump us with hard sci-fi, and we are not complaining. Running almost at three hours, with a slow-pace that lets us be engulfed by the stunning imagery – based on the original, peppered with hints of other sci-fi worlds – courtesy of the yet to be Award-Winning lens of Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049 couldn’t be further from your regular, comic-book based, action packed blockbuster. It even dares – shudder – to put some existentialist philosophy into the plot. Fans of the first movie may appreciate it further, sci-fi fans will droll around their seat – for the remain of the audiences, it may be a case of love it or hate it.

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It is not the perfect film – far from it. The script by original writer Hampton Fancher has a few holes, and we’re not talking about that Deckard ambiguity (Why the bees? Where do K’s memories come from? Why is Robin Wright so great?, etc etc). There are moments where the cinematography is just too good, and we get seriously distracted – luckily, it’s not that dense a plot. Even the final twist (?) is as predictable as they come.

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And yet. This tale of urban isolation and what it means to be human manages to resonate on our minds like only good sci-fi can. On the line between what’s fake and what’s real, K – content with his “fake” status, happy with this hologram girlfriend – sees himself suddenly aware of the possibilities of being human. He has not seen a “miracle”, but presented with the possibility of being one himself, he transcends his machine status to do the most humane thing he can do – to sacrifice himself for a cause. Gosling, with his big coat (where, oh where can we buy it) and moody looks, was the perfect casting choice, and we won’t be surprised if he’ll manage to get some award love earlier next year.

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Definitely an instant classic, Blade Runner 2049 deserves to be seen in the big screen in all its splendour. Despite the Asian/women controversy, and the not enough Robin Wright screen time, Villeneuve’s new film shows that it is possible to make a very different kind of mainstream cinema nowadays, without sacrificing the audience’s intelligence for a few dollars more at the box office. Please, sirs, can we have some more?

Blade Runner 2049 is on UK screens from 5th October 2017

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.