Sunday, October 08, 2017
Blade Runner 2049
Based on the characters from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner by Ridley Scott as it involves a police officer who makes a chilling discovery that would lead to the end of humanity as he turns to a man who had disappeared thirty years ago who had his own experience with replicants. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green from a story by Fancher, the film is a futuristic sci-fi film set in Los Angeles where a cop tries to save humanity as he also cope with what is at stake as the role of Officer K is played by Ryan Gosling with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Also starring Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Barkhad Abdi, Wood Harris, Carla Juri, and Robin Wright. Blade Runner 2049 is a sprawling yet intoxicating film from Denis Villeneuve.
Following a blackout just a few years after the events in 2019, an LAPD cop who hunts older replicants in order to rid of them for society where he makes a discovery that would change humanity. It’s a film that follows up what Rick Deckard had discovered years ago that eventually lead to his disappearance and what cop in Officer K is trying to find upon this discovery he made when he was trying to arrest an older replicant in Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). In this discovery, K is dealing with what he’s found as he wonders if there is more to him than just being a cop who lives alone with a hologram AI named Joi (Ana de Armas) as his companion. The film’s screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green isn’t just about this sense of identity that K is dealing with but also in this discovery that everyone wants to know including a replicant manufacturer in Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) who sees it as the next big step into his creation.
The first act revolves around what K has discovered as he would meet with Wallace’s enforcer Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) who gives him some information about his discovery as it involves Deckard. Yet, K’s journey would lead him to try and find something as he would report to Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) who believes that something is off as she wants K to find out what is going on but in secrecy as he’s later pursued by Luv. The second act isn’t just about what K is discovering but also more about his identity as he turns to Joi for help with that identity as it relates to a toy horse he believed he had when he was a child. Upon finding this toy horse and numbers on that horse that he also found on a tree when he was arresting Morton, it would eventually lead him to Deckard who has been in hiding. Upon meeting Deckard, K would realize what is at stake but also why Deckard had to leave as it relates to something bigger than himself as well as his own personal involvement.
Denis Villeneuve’s direction is definitely grand in terms of the scale of what he is creating as it is set in 2049 Los Angeles with futuristic versions of the state of California and Las Vegas as this mixture of farm country, cities, and wastelands. Shot mainly in Budapest, Hungary with some of it shot in Iceland, Spain, and other locations, the film definitely has a unique approach to the visual presentation as it begins in this kind of desolate yet beautiful land that is a place for synthetic farming as Villeneuve’s usage of the wide shots would showcase the scope of these locations. The scenes set in Los Angeles is cramped yet vast in terms of the holographic ads and other things that play into something that is futuristic as Villeneuve would create different look and feel for certain places and locations throughout the film.
The direction also utilizes some close-ups and medium shots for some unique compositions in the way characters interact with each other as well as some of the moments in the action. Villeneuve would include bits of humor in the film but much of the film is dramatic with some suspense and action as the drama relates to K’s loneliness and the revelations about what he discovered as it add to him questioning his own identity. By the time Deckard arrives in the film, it does recall elements of the past that includes this very eerie meeting between Deckard and Wallace into what the latter could do and why he needs this discovery that K made. All of which would have K play a big part into giving Deckard something he had lost and find peace over this loss as well as give K some meaning in his life. Overall, Villeneuve creates an exhilarating and rapturous film about a blade runner trying to save humanity by uncovering a discovery that could help those as well as stop a creator from playing God.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins does phenomenal work with the film’s cinematography as it is a major highlight of the film for the way he would give various locations a different look and feel from the grey exteriors of the farming land and garbage wasteland to the usage of sepia-drenched lighting for the exteriors of Las Vegas and the array of lighting and shades for many of the film’s interior scenes. Editor Joe Walker does excellent work with the editing as it has some jump-cuts for some of the action as well as some straightforward cutting for the drama and suspense. Production designer Dennis Gassner, with set decorator Alessandra Querzola and supervising art director Paul Inglis, does brilliant work with the look of K’s apartment as well as the LAPD building and the place where the Wallace Corporation is and other aspects to make Los Angeles look really futuristic. Costume designer Renee April does fantastic work with the costumes as it does provide the characters some personalities into some of the clothing that Joi wears as well as the clothing of other characters to play into the futuristic world.
Hair supervisor Lizzie Lawson and makeup supervisor Csilla Blake-Horvath do terrific work with the look of some of the characters including a few prostitutes as well as Joi in the different personalities she takes to please K. Visual effects supervisors Pierre Buffin, Richard Clegg, Paul Lambert, Petr Marek, Viktor Muller, and John Nelson do incredible work with the visual effects from the look of the city in some parts as well as the holograms and some of the action sequences as it is top-notch work. Sound editor Mark A. Mangini and sound designer Theo Green do amazing work with the sound in creating some sound effects as well as in the way guns and the flying cars sound. The film’s music by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is great for its mixture of electronic bombast and ambient textures to create a score that is always engaging and help to play into the action and suspense while music supervisor Deva Anderson brings in some music that K listens to like Frank Sinatra as well as a couple of songs by Elvis Presley and variations of Tears in the Rain by Vangelis.
The casting by Zsolt Csutak, Francine Maisler, and Lucinda Syson is marvelous as it feature a couple of cameo appearances from two characters from the original film in Edward James Olmos as Deckard’s old colleague Gaff and Sean Young as the replicant Rachael with help from Loren Peta as Young’s double. Other notable small roles include Wood Harris as a cop named Harris, David Dastmalchian as a police scientist named Coco, Barkhad Abdi as a black markets analyzer in Doc Badger, Lennie James as a wasteland businessman in Mister Cotton, Hiam Abbass as a mysterious underground leader in Freysa, and Dave Bautista in a superb small role as the replicant Sapper Morton. Mackenzie Davis is terrific as a replicant prostitute named Mariette who is asked by Luv to follow K while being very discreet about her true motive while Carla Juri is wonderful in a small role as a mysterious memory designer in Dr. Ana Stelline who creates memories for replicants.
Jared Leto is fantastic as the replicants creator Niander Wallace as a man who is trying to create a new form of replicants as a way to get rid of humanity’s flaws as he believes this new discovery would be the key to what he wants. Robin Wright is excellent as Lt. Joshi as a LAPD official who orders K to find out about this discovery as well as question his own offbeat behavior as she is aware of what is at stake. Sylvia Hoeks is brilliant as Luv as Wallace’s replicant enforcer who is tasked with finding more about this discovery as she is this dangerous and powerful individual who is eager to get what she wants by any means necessary. Ana de Armas is amazing as Joi as an artificial-intelligence hologram who serves as K’s companion that tries to help him understand as well as wanting to feel alive to prove that there is more to her than just some program.
Harrison Ford’s performance as Rick Deckard is incredible as he provides this sense of a man who had seen and experienced so much in his life as he tries to cover his tracks while dealing with this newfound revelation over this discovery that he was involved in that also includes Rachael whom he mourns for. Finally, there’s Ryan Gosling in a sensational performance as K as a cop who copes with his identity upon this discovery he’s made as well as wanting to get answers as he is quite tough but also flawed as it is a very grounded and restraint performance from Gosling who brings a lot to a role of someone dealing with loneliness and himself.
Blade Runner 2049 is a magnificent film from Denis Villeneuve that features top-notch performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Along with its great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins, a hypnotic score, and a compelling premise that explores the idea of identity and humanity. It’s a film that manages to be not just some sprawling sci-fi adventure film with elements of film noir, suspense, and action but also a film that says a lot about people and who they are as well as what can happen when one wants to use that power for his own reasons. In the end, Blade Runner 2049 is an outstanding film from Denis Villeneuve.
Related: Blade Runner - The Auteurs #68: Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve Films: August 32nd on Earth – Maelstrom – Polytechnique – Incendies - Prisoners (2013 film) - Enemy (2013 film) – Sicario - Arrival (2016 film)
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