Blade Runner 2049: An evolved extension of the original cult classic?
Welcome back to Los Angeles (LA). The year is 2049 and LA is as grey, rainy and full of neon as it was some 30 years back. The whole landscape might have evolved, but there is no mistaking the fact that this is the same world that cinephiles fell in love with from the Blade Runner.
The official trailer of Blade Runner 2049 has recently dropped and the moody and atmospheric world building is exceedingly reminiscent of its predecessor, the original 1982 Ridley Scott’s cult classic which was based on Philip Kindred Dick’s 1968 short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It’s not just the visuals; the plot of the sequel also appears to follow the original.
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LA police officer K (Ryan Gosling), along with being mandated to track down and kill bio-engineered beings known as replicants, uncovers a long buried secret that has the potential to end humanity.
This discovery leads K on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the protagonist of the original film and a former LA police blade runner himself, who has been missing for some three odd decades now.
While the lead duo of Gosling and Ford might be a huge attraction in itself, it is the support cast that is sure to be the cherry atop this delicious offering. Following his turn as The Joker in Suicide Squad from last year, Jared Leto is bringing another bad guy to cinematic life.
His character of acting as a father figure to replicants is so menacingly chilling for the absurdly simple reason that it is so caring. Whether he’s a replicant himself, who has climbed up the power ladder, or some other type of non-human, remains to be seen. But what we can state without an iota of doubt is that he is going to be a formidable adversary.
Despite the presence of the aforementioned A-listers, the true stars of the film in my humble opinion is the director-cinematographer combination of Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins, and the trailer just goes on to prove it.
I have been banging the Villeneuve drum for years now. Ever since his earlier fares (Incendies and Prisoners), he has demonstrated that he is one of the most talented newcomers on the block. With his Oscar-nominated Arrival last year, he went on to prove that he is someone you can trust with an adult sci-fi, and now with Blade Runner’s follow-up, he truly looks to be in his element.
One cannot praise Villeneuve, leaving out his partner-in-crime, cinematographer Deakins. The long collaborator of the director is one of the best in business and the stunning cinematography at display during the promo is a testament to his tremendous craft. Be it the dreary neon-lit setting of a futuristic LA or the desolately barren outlook of a crumbled Las Vegas, Deakins has been bang on with his photography. A 13-time Academy Award nominee, this film might just be the one that helps Deakins win his first Oscar.
You also need to credit the duo with the decision to not steer too much away from the visual aesthetic conceived by the 1982 Blade Runner. The sequel might be set decades from the original, but the look and feel simply is an evolved extension of everything that made the first one such a cult classic. Case in point, the massive holograms which look eerily similar to those found in Blade Runner, but with an understandably advanced technology.
Blade Runner 2049 is set to open in October later this year.
All photos: IMDb