A worthy sequel

stuart adamson
A worthy sequel image

Bladerunner 2049

Screening October, 2017

I suspect I am not alone in my opinion that the original Blade Runner movie, starring Harrison Ford, has an utterly brilliant script with finely nuanced explorations of what it means to be made in the image of God, what makes us human, what gives us worth, how it is that we can be redeemed... and more.

Nor am I alone in describing director Ridley Scott’s achievement in the 1982 movie as masterful, nor the cinematography of Jordan Cronenweth as breathtakingly beautiful and moody.

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

So when the sequel Blade Runner 2049 hit the cinemas, the question on the lips of every fan was, understandably “Will it be as good as the original?”

It retains much of the feel of the original in terms of plot, though it’s not as tightly woven and nuanced, and – remarkably – it is arguably even more beautiful in terms of cinematography thanks to the artistic genius of Roger Deakins.

Director Denis Villeneuve wisely sought guidance throughout the process from Ridley Scott, and it shows. The sequel still has the film noir meets sci-fi vibe, and its character development comes with a trademark heavy dose of intrigue thanks to the input, I suspect, of one of the original writers, Hampton Fancher.

For those unfamiliar with the original movie, it is set in November 2019 in a dystopian Los Angeles. Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, is a Blade Runner (a kind of bounty hunter), tasked with hunting down and “retiring” (read: killing) a group of androids who are all but indistinguishable from humans. The group of androids, known as Nexus-6 replicants, were designed to work on the off-world colonies but have gone rogue. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear they want to exact revenge on their designer, the head of the Tyrell Corporation, for making them slaves.

Deckard falls in love with an advanced model replicant called Rachael, who is personal assistant to Eldon Tyrell at corporate headquarters, and viewers are invited to explore with Deckard the nature of love and acceptance, humanity and redemption as his slightly fraught relationship with Rachael progresses.

The movie reached its climax amid Deckard’s violent struggle with the leader of the rogue replicants, Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer.

As Blade Runner 2049 opens, a replicant Blade Runner by the name of K (Ryan Gosling), is on a mission to retire the last of the Nexus-8 replicants manufactured by the now-defunct Tyrell Corporation and finds the remains of a replicant retired long ago that present him with a mystery.

K then sets out to try and find Deckard (Ford), believing that the reclusive former Blade Runner holds the key to averting a major crisis and solving the mystery.

Like Deckard and Batty in the original, K is searching for a sense of belonging and yearns for a meaningful identity. This builds on the original film’s themes of obedience, true humanity, the nature of the soul and the significance of remembering, albeit at a more leisurely pace across a slightly long 163 minutes.   

No spoilers here – just go and see it. Or get the DVD. It’s good to have the background of the original film to go on but Blade Runner 2049 can stand alone. It is visually sumptuous, thought-provoking, enigmatic and powerful.

A worthy sequel.