It took 35 years of waiting before diving back into the world of Blade Runner. Aware of the heritage he carries, Denis Villeneuve gives birth to a suite that goes beyond …
It took 35 years of waiting before diving back into the world of Blade Runner . Aware of the heritage he carries, Denis Villeneuve gives birth to a suite that exceeds our expectations.
The rebirth of a cult license is fraught with pitfalls and Ridley Scott will not say otherwise. If the return of the xenomorph was a nice financial operation for Fox, the new Alien franchise failed to convince the majority of early fans. The British director has therefore confined himself to production, leaving the reins to Denis Villeneuve, who has become in a few years the banner of a mainstream cinema with strong independent accents.
From Sicario to Premier Contact , the Quebecer has succeeded in imposing his graphic touch thanks to an elegant staging, always favoring contemplation over action. It was also the great quality of Blade Runner , to which Villeneuve wanted to pay tribute. And he surrounded himself well.
Blade Runner 2049 is a visually stunning movie. Perhaps more than its elder. Although dominated by darkness and fog, the light is finally breaking through. If Roger Deakins (the director of photography) has nothing more to prove, he will soon be delivering a work in the shape of a requiem. The plans take on the appearance of paintings whose symmetry is captivating. The Briton is working to mark out the lines of force of all kinds of elements, with mathematical precision. A tree, a building or a ray of sunlight constantly comes to confront Gosling’s stocky silhouette, often filmed via sumptuous panoramic shots.
The scenography of Villeneuve serves above all the story. With the same duality that pitted the sprawling beings of First Contact against their own vessel, he endlessly confronts the organic with the mineral. Despite the overwhelming presence of stone and metal, a trickle of water or light always recalls the existence of living things. This is particularly the case in the offices of Niander Wallace, a man who believes his robots can become more human than their model. The director didn’t just understand the essence of the original film, he was able to truly bring it to the screen.
Perfectionist, he perpetuates this contrast even in the direction of the actors. The opportunity to see the excellent composition of the cast. Replicants, usually so cold, seem to have emotions that humans no longer feel. This is how a hand shaking, an embarrassed look or the beginning of a tear denotes the taciturn aspect of Agent K (Ryan Gosling). The same goes for Luv (Sylvie Hoeks), who surprises as a devoted android, almost touched by a jealousy that she is not supposed to know. For his part, the implacable Robin Wright ( House of Cards ) extends this paradox by camping a human as cold as a robot.
This reign of falsehood is an integral part of the film, and obviously spills over into the script. Without going into more detail, Villeneuve leaves the nature of Agent K in doubt for a long time, a blade runner gradually realizing that he is eliminating people who resemble him. Faced with a secret which calls the whole of society into question, the director merges the small story with the big one, and concludes a good part of the narrative arc started in 82. He even takes his time to do it, which might displease those who expected a more explosive, action-oriented sequel. They will nevertheless be kept alert by the thunderous soundtrack of Hans Zimmer, however less distinguished than that of Vangelis.
But the strength of the film lies elsewhere, outside the main scriptwriting path so important to fans of the first opus. Villeneuve operates various rather poetic digressions on the life of replicants. Used as service objects, they too have the right to use a company AI, named JOI (interpreted by Ana de Armas). Configurable at will, this “replicante” of replicant represents a saving presence in the supposed solitude of this gigantic urban perimeter.
But once again, this entity aspires to be more than its nature allows. A paradox that ends with one of the most beautiful love scenes in SF in recent years. Without ever losing sight of the aesthetics of its model, Blade Runner 2049 extends its vision in a way that Philip K. Dick would not have denied.
Blade Runner 2049 pays a wonderful tribute to the work of Ridley Scott. Visually sublime, Denis Villeneuve’s film first uses images to bring out the main reflection of the saga, always opposing humanity and robotics. The spectators will receive a good part of the answers which they came to seek, but will leave the room with new questions. A handover as elegant as it is powerful, bordering on a tour de force.