To say that the announcement of a sequel to the original 1982 Blade Runner was met with scepticism is an understatement. Fans of science fiction have often been left disappointed as sequels, prequels, or reboots of their favourite film fail to meet the high standards set in the first instance (see Star Wars).
The challenge with Blade Runner is even more precarious; fans of the film feel that nothing has really ever surpassed it. The original is not at all dated, as all its nuance and symbolism is equally as iconic and relevant today as it was 35 years ago. Nevertheless, 2049 works, both in its own right and 35 years after the release of Ridley Scott’s cult classic.
The opening sequence explains that a few of the Nexus 6 androids are still in hiding and Blade Runners are still employed by the police to ‘retire’ them. The film’s protagonist, Ryan Gosling’s Officer K, is a replicant blade runner, derided and estranged by his human colleagues. After all, he isn’t really human.
All the cast perform magnificiently. Harrison Ford is as witty and cool as ever and Ryan Gosling an excellent choice. The script is in keeping with Phillip K. Dick’s dystopia, likely because Hampton Fancher, who wrote the first draft of the script of the original film, returns to the fold for 2049. Executive producer and science fiction king-pin Ridley Scott lends his idiosyncratic thoughtful and uncompromising vision to film as expected.
Aesthetically too, the film is beautiful. Director Denis Villeneuve is clearly a huge fan of the original, using absolutely huge sets to shoot the film. Supposedly, Ryan Gosling had to visit the sets hours before he filmed just so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed on camera. The plot did not feel stale or unnecessary, and has added even more intrigue and life to the original.
Some reviewers are even stating that this film tops the original, although this may be rather unusual, and perhaps a step too far. However, it appears unlikely that 2049 will not become a modernclassic. I came away from the film having not only reignited my love for the original, but feeling satisfied that it now has this sequel to continue the story.
It would also be surprising if this is the end of the Blade Runner franchise, with Ridley Scott announcing the possibility of three further sequels. If the same amount of consideration and love is put into these films as was obviously put into this one, then this can only be a good thing.