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Review: Bladerunner 2049

Roslyn Hull

A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years. IMDb.

I am sorry. I am so, so sorry … for all those readers who never got to see the original Bladerunner. It combined the best of film noir and dystopian Sci-Fi – and provided me with a benchmark that stood for years.

I am referring to the original cinema release (which I may have lined up for a few times), not any of the later versions Ridley Scott meddled with. I have friends who have only seen the extended Director’s Cut (without the voiceover) and (rightly) think it is the wankiest film they’ve ever been bored by. There is a point when a director has to let their baby go and rise or fall on editors and test screenings. If, like Scott or George Lucas, they come back later to ‘fix’ it, their ego invariably takes over and boredom ensues.

But I digress.

All this preamble is in order to make a sweeping statement – I am not sure you will enjoy the new Bladerunner if you haven’t seen the old one. Not just because there may be nuances you aren’t aware of, or that you need to be up to date with the story. It is more that the universe is a specific one. Often copied but never surpassed, it is a smog-filled mix of 80s brands, tech and hardware (like cars) and a very Asian flavoured, cynical take on our future.

Still, if you are game to dive into this universe, it will reward you with monumental images, unforgettable characters and a story that I am so eager to know more about. It has style, depth and a grimy chutzpah that makes for wonderful cinema.

Ryan Gosling is great (as usual), softening his deadpan anti-hero from Driver with soupçon of romantic stoicism. Ana de Armas is tone perfect as his cyber love interest and Robin Wright adds another powerful character role to her portfolio. I love that she just gets better with age.

As good as they are though, it is the whole production that makes this film so worthwhile – cinematography, sound and, most importantly, direction. Denis Villeneuve is making his mark in the genre, with Arrival and now this – and is apparently re-imagining the Dune saga. Can’t wait!

For the fans, there are some evocative moments, especially when Jared Leto attempts to recreate Rachel for Harrison Ford or when Edward James Olmos folds an origami bull. However, it was a tiny moment, in a bleak farmhouse right at the start, which brought the whole experience into sharp focus for me. The sound of a pot bubbling on the stove is the same as the sound of eggs boiling in Sebastian’s apartment in the first film, just before Pris reaches her hand in to grasp one, revealing that she is a replicant.

Yes, I was very excited for this film and no, I am not disappointed. I am thrilled and am going to line up to see it again.

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author