Director Dennis Villeneuve has been steadily rising over the past few years. His films “Prisoners”, “Sicario” and “Arrival” are all solid works that hint at a filmmaker with vision and conviction. With “Blade Runner 2049”, Villeneuve practically blows the door off the cinema world and announces himself as one of the premiere filmmakers working today.
“Blade Runner 2049” features Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant, hunting down the previous generation of replicants who have broken free of society’s restraints and gone rogue. The world hates what he is, seeing him not as a person, but a sick creature pretending to be part of the human race. A mystery begins to unfold however as the bones of a dead replicant reveal a hidden secret. As ‘K’ delves deeper and deeper into the case, heroes and villains emerge and the possibility of a more pertinent life presents itself to him.
Gosling is solid in the lead role of the film, balancing the right amount of human tendencies with robotic insecurities. Side players Sappa (Dave Bautista), Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright), Niander (Jared Leto) and Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) complete a diverse and interesting cast, but it is the characters of Joi (Ana de Armas) and Deckard (Harrison Ford) and their relationship with ‘K’ that really create the emotional core of the film. Joi and ‘K’ in particular share a very interesting arc of wondering whether or not their emotions are real.
The film tackles several absorbing existential questions regarding artificial intelligence and the ideas of living, building off the previous film’s themes in a great way. Do robotic beings have souls? Can they love? Can artificial intelligence in fact know more about life than the living? At what point do robots cease to be subordinate to man and become their own sentient race? This is a thinking man’s sci-fi film.
Special credit has to be given to cinematographer Roger Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner for creating a world so rich and real. It is truly breathtaking especially combined with Hans Zimmer’s haunting score.
The original “Blade Runner” was able to build a world full of intricacies, but lacked great storytelling to cement it as anything more than a visual epic. This sequel builds a heart underneath that facade and give birth to something new, both paying homage to its predecessor and creating something far superior. It is one of the best films of the year, a haunting and soulful journey of consciousness that takes you into an unforgettable world so close and far from us.