Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” is already gaining the reputation of being a film which breaks new grounds in terms of creating visual splendour on screen, and its plot is a mix of cerebral reflections, unexpected turns of events and low-key, but effective action. While faithful to the world of the original film of 1982, “Blade Runner 2049” is really a film which is one of a kind, and in almost every respect. Here, it has been thirty years since Deckard’s adventures in “Blade Runner” (1982), and now planet Earth is even more depleted of its natural resources. The use of replicants on Earth increased, and now K (Gosling), a replicant police officer, is on the hunt “to retire” the older versions of replicants. However, one of his routine calls “to retire” has yielded important clues which may endanger the calm societal state whereby replicants and humans coexist relatively orderly. His adventure then becomes the one which involves the search for truth, and, like the original film, the preoccupation here is the issue of identity and the correct identification of false and true memories.
“A humanoid robot is like any other machine; it can fluctuate between being a benefit and a hazard very rapidly. As a benefit, it’s not our problem” (Rick Deckard in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”).
Since its release in 1982, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” has achieved a classic cult status, and is deemed by many to be the most influential science-fiction film ever made, just behind “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). It is loosely based on a book by Philip K. Dick and stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. In the film, set in a distant future, Rick Deckard (Ford), an officer at the special police “Blade-Runner” unit is on the mission to hunt down and “retire” (kill) a number of replicants (or androids) who escaped newly-colonised Mars and now wreak havoc on Earth. The film’s superior attention to detail is undeniable; its visuals are original and mind-blowing; and its “minimalist”, “slow-burning” narrative is also admirable, with Ford and Hauer commanding the screen. However, when it comes to comparing the film to the book by Philip K. Dick, “Blade Runner” falls short of being a philosophical, character-focused and narratively-engaging film it aspires to be.
This film from Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival” (2016)) looks promising: visually stunning and well-acted. But, I still have mixed emotions about it all. Will all the action and style here actually take precedence over depth and meaning? We will see.
David Cronenberg’s ‘A Dangerous Method’ (2011) is coming to the UK’s cinemas in February 2012, giving a good pretext to review one of the director’s most violent, action-driven and thought-provoking films – ‘A History of Violence’. Cronenberg excels himself in this film, blending a complex personality study and raw violence to a very satisfying result.
The film’s plot is straightforward. Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is an ordinary, law-abiding family man who runs his own diner in a small town in the US. His settled daily routine changes when he involuntarily becomes a local community hero after protecting his employees from some vicious gun men. From then on, his family is stalked by members of an Irish-American mob who are convinced that Tom Stall is Joey Cusack, a man from Philadelphia with a violent past. His wife Eddie (Maria Bello), his son Jack (Ashton Holmes) and his young daughter all feel overwhelmed by the changes. After a shooting incident, whereby Tom kills one of the mob guys, Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), Tom finally confesses that he was Joey in the past, but has left that life for good. Later, Tom receives a call from his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt) telling him to come to Philadelphia to see him. Tom does just this, and after a confrontation with his brother, kills him. The ending, depicting Tom coming home from Philadelphia to find his family at a dinner table, is very thought-provoking because, although his children are seemingly prepared to forgive him, it is unclear whether his wife is capable of accepting him into her life again.