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Sequel's bad habits break "Blade Runner" spell

06 October 2017

There's a sequence late in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 when Ryan Gosling is wandering through a vintage casino, and he comes upon a hologram Elvis in the showroom.

It's a future-scape recognisable from the original, but more brutal and desolate: various alluded-to catastrophes having rendered whole segments of California and beyond uninhabitable, as well as creating even more tension between the humans not wealthy enough to live off-world and the synthetic "skin jobs" doing the service work no one else will.

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One of the ongoing arguments about the original film surrounded its ending, which was open and ambiguous.

The ever-reliable Gosling ("La La Land", "Blue Valentine") is, as you'd expect, quite good here. It's some of the best work by the actor, who recently was decent previous year as the Joker in "Suicide Squad" but who won an Academy Award for his rail-thin, HIV-positive trans character in 2013's "Dallas Buyers Club". This is a movie you must see with as little information, narratively speaking, as possible. You wonder if you really need Harrison Ford at all.

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But while "Blade Runner 2049" is always something to look at, an overly elaborate script and some other bad habits common to today's sequel machinery - such as glaring product placement - have broken the "Blade Runner" spell.

Ryan Gosling as K in BLADE RUNNER 2049 from Warner Bros. The movie's visual palette is so striking that I was nearly disappointed when Villeneuve would cut away from a long, slow plan through the dystopian streets of Los Angeles to get back to the narrative.

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Early on, host Alison Hammond set the stage for an unconventional interview when she presented the actors with special liquor glasses from the original Blade Runner movie. They were used as slave labour because they were better than humans in every way and believed to be incapable of human thought. He also skillfully combines the key elements of filmmaking - the most obvious one being the absolutely stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins, who has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards so far and makes a no-brainer case for his 14th here. K's investigation puts him on a collision course with Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the blade runner from the original movie, and hints at a greater conspiracy that threatens to upend the entire Blade Runner universe. Fans have argued whether or not Ford's Deckard is himself a replicant; a controversy which has been fuelled over the years by the release of different cuts, which emphasise subtly different elements of the story. We guess that's what happens when whisky gets involved!

Sequel's bad habits break