Watching the film I was hypnotized by the sheer beauty of the images, a startling view of the future that was often stunning to behold, other times frightening in the ugliness. With breathtaking images, stunning visual effects and a superb score, the film pulled me in. The film moved at a languid pace, no hurry in the storytelling, and unravelled at that same easy, unrushed pace. The director, the enormously gifted Denis Villeneuve understands there is no hurry in telling a great story, he takes his time, he allows us in.
He did this with Prisoners (2014), building the tension to almost unbearable heights, the drug thriller Sicario (2015), and he did it last year with the magnificent Arrival (2016) almost daring his audience to take what proved to be an astounding journey. Earlier in his career while still working in Canada he made the extraordinary Polytechnique (2011) a bleak yet tremendously powerful film about the Montreal Masssacre of December 6, 1989 when a gunman walked into a university and began to kill students and staff randomly. Again, as told through the eyes of some of the students, he took his time,he did not hurry the narrative, he respected the screenplay. The filmmaker, like Kubrick before him takes his time, has the confidence in his direction, his actors, crew and the story to give the audience time to connect and fall into the story.
When he was asked to direct the long awaited sequel to Blade Runner (1982) I wonder if he was surprised and nervous? Surprised because most thought Ridley Scott, who helmed the first film, would do the sequel, but Scott begged off and personally asked Villeneuve. Nervous because he would be making a sequel to one of the most acclaimed and beloved science fiction films of the last thirty five years, he understood what was at stake, to make a bad film would ruin him.
He did not fail. Instead he made an intelligent, thoughtful and sublime film that challenges audiences to follow the lead character on a journey that takes him into the past of the narrative, while remaining firmly in the present. I believe it a stronger film than the first, at least it’s equal.
Before I get into the reasons the film failed at the box office, and it did, that cannot be denied, however many critics, myself included felt the new film was extraordinary, a masterpiece.