Director: Dennis Villuenieve (spelling??)
Well now. This is a big event for me. The first film had a powerful effect on me and continues to draw me in for regular viewings. How does this long belated sequel stand up?
I won’t put any spoilers here – I’ll save that for the comments.
It’s achingly ‘worthy’, that’s the best way I can put it. Dennis Villenueve is a safe pair of hands as a director, and seems to intuitively understand that peculiar mix of futuristic dystopia and hard-boiled gumshoe feel that constitutes the Blade Runner world. The visual expansion of that world is expertly and sensitively handled – he keeps things moody and smoggy, with a stately, slow-moving camera. No complaints from me on that score.
The soundtrack is also as immersive as the first film, wisely using the same sound palette with a smattering of callbacks to the old key themes.
Overall, you can’t fault the effort that’s gone into this project. It clearly seems to have been a real labour of love and reverence.
But I have to say it left me a bit cold. It doesn’t help that it’s deathly dull. Slow-moving, with ponderous and brooding dialogue, and unusually quiet – let’s just say I could sense a lot of people shuffling in their seats. It takes a long time to get to where it’s going, and for at least half its running time you’re wondering where it’s actually going at all.
Like any sequel, you can’t help but compare it to the original. And that’s where I miss things the original did far, far better. The original was short and compartmentalised, only hinting at larger things going on in the world. Containing the action to a claustrophobic, dark, rain-drenched city really helped the original maintain the necessary oppressive atmosphere. It had real forward momentum. And for such a complex film, the original had a remarkably straightforward plot concept driving it – a detective has to track down and kill four renegades.
So it’s the simplicity I suppose I miss. There’s bigger things going on in this sequel, but that just makes you have to work harder to remember plot stuff. I don’t think plot was ever really what Blade Runner was about. And there’s at least a handful of characters here that I couldn’t get a handle on what their motivation or purpose was.
However, if you’re a Blade Runner fan then it’s kind of compulsory to see this. It’s far from a car crash. I was worried it was going to be turned into a generic action film, and it’s far, so far, from that. Harrison Ford plays a blinder, and Ryan Gosling is as watchable as always.
It’s cerebral, a real head movie. And as a sequel, it’s redundant because the first movie said all you would ever really want a film like this to say. Make of that what you will, but I don’t expect it to dominate the multiplex screens for long.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The first one, obviously. But also Minority Report, Arrival or Solaris (either version).