Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay Written by: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Story By: Hampton Fancher
Based on Characters from the Novel: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Written by: Philip K. Dick
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Music Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch
Produced by: Andrew a. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Bud Yorkin, Cynthia Yorkin
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, with Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.
Atmospheric and quietly menacing.
Based on characters from the novel, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ (written by Philip K. Dick), screenplay writer, Hampton Fancher (with Michael Green) has returned with Blade Runner 2049: the highly anticipated sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve.
The future is bleak with the population moving off-world on the back of replicant labour – a new version of replicant that/who obeys without question.
After the EMP detonation that caused a global blackout in 2022, the replicants who pre-date the chaos and have no end-dates are hunted and retired by blade runners.
From the opening scene the quiet absorbs you into a world intensely over-populated and dark.
Set in LA, the feeling of over-population extends to the entire Earth; the realisation that nature has lost. Humans dominate the world and the replicants are slaves.
But the line is blurring.
As the human, blade runner enforcer, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) states, we’re all looking for something that’s real.
With all the chaos of people and city and technology, you’d expect noise, but there’s a deep silence to this film.
Controversy surrounds the composition of the score with Jóhann Jóhannsson (who previously collaborated with Villeneuve on “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival”) being replaced by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. See article here.
Villeneuve relies heavily on the soundtrack to create the underlying foreboding feeling of a dark future. So, I can understand the importance of getting the soundtrack right for this film (and in his previous films) as it plays such an important part in telling the story.
Yet, it’s the imagery here as well. Each scene is a perfectly made moment carefully crafted through shifting light reflecting off water, holograms sharing the same space as a piano, the falling rain and snow and the eyes of, K, as he’s stares while being brought back to baseline. And Harrison Ford still has presence on screen returning as Rick Deckard.
Villeneuve’s craftsmanship has brought the story to the screen as only he can – his handling outclassing the script itself. Fans of the first, Blade Runner will not be disappointed.
At one point I noticed how quiet it was in the cinema, realising no-one in the audience wanted to break the spell.
Ryan Gosling brings a needed impressive performance as the film rests heavily on the blade runner character, K. He brings that silent strength – not so much in his words but the way he holds them, making you believe he’s there.
Under the direction of Villeneuve, Jared Leto as the replicant creator, Niander Wallace, gets the tone just right, the subtleties showing Wallace’s immoral character.
And that’s the quality of the film, subtle: complicated emotions yet, made to feel simple. A kind of gentle unfolding with an underlying darkness driving life into the shadows, but the shadows fighting back, like life…
Ah, don’t you love it when a movie makes you feel all moody when you leave the cinema!
Blade Runner 2049 will appeal to more than sci-fi fans.
The quality of the cinematography, sound and setting alone make it a worth-while watch on the big screen.