Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Future Perfect; Film of the weekDirector Denis Villeneuve Has Built on Ridley Scott's Legacy to Create a Sequel That Is Grander in Scope and Emotional Range Than the Sci-Fi Classic

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Future Perfect; Film of the weekDirector Denis Villeneuve Has Built on Ridley Scott's Legacy to Create a Sequel That Is Grander in Scope and Emotional Range Than the Sci-Fi Classic

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Norman

BLADE RUNNER 2049 Cert 15, 163 mins THE question at Blade Runner 2049's pulsating heart has no glib answer, and possibly no answer at all. It is the question that has intrigued the more thoughtful side of sci-fi for the 35 years since Ridley Scott's dystopian original blazed the trail and it is the question which this (Scott-produced) successor thrillingly extends.

The question is what does it mean to be human? If the sciences of genetics, robotics and artificial intelligence could clone DNA and replicate the physical and emotional aspects of what this film's sporadically biblical script calls "man born of woman"; if it were possible to implant memories of a childhood that never existed but are every bit as vivid as yours or mine; if all that could be so perfectly achieved that no test could distinguish the two In that event, on what grounds could or should an android be denied his or her (or its) humanity? Is there such a thing, in other words, as a soul? That question, which has intrigued philosophers and theologians for a little longer than 35 years, echoes through Blade Runner 2049, a movie that is remarkable in many ways, not least for its avoidance of a trap. On hearing that this sequel was on the way, one shuddered in anticipation of an infinitely less convincing replicant of the 1982 original.

Denis Villeneuve, the French-Canadian director who made his sci-fi bones with Arrival, has avoided the trap with dazzling adroitness. He has done more than stay rigorously loyal to the world created by the first film, right down to featuring adverts for the long-sincebankrupted airline Pan-Am. He has built on Scott's legacy to create something grander in scope and emotional range.

The action takes place 30 years after Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard, a special kind of intelligence officer and hitman called a blade runner, tracked down and "retired" (destroyed) a group of rogue androids known as replicants, who rebelled against the four-year lifespan generously afforded them by the sinister Tyrell Corporation.

In 2049 the Los Angeles hellscape has became even more hellish. Biospheric collapse has raised the sea level and bathes the city perpetually in acid rain. The familiar cyberpunk vista of eternal nightfall, eerie, gargantuan advertising holograms and wretches crammed into tiny spaces under absolute state surveillance is shaped, like all the imitators of Scott's vision, by the original's template. But thanks to the grandeur of Roger Deakins's cinematography -- incongruously, given the dismal junkyard ugliness, this is a strikingly beautiful film -- it feels bizarrely undated.

New blade runner Officer K (Ryan Gosling) chances on a secret which has the capacity to destroy what little survives of civil society. Unless he ends the threat he is told by his boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), "this breaks the world". …

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