After thirty-five years, sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner gets a visually stunning sequel that asks what it means to be human, while also expanding the film’s universe.
Director Denis Villeneuve and the film’s writing team could have easily rebooted the franchise with no effort involved and made a quick buck on its name alone (a trend that has become all too common and annoying for modern films).
Instead, Villeneuve crafted a film that respects the original, while also giving new life and a new story to an already familiar universe.
Blade Runner 2049 follows Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a young blade runner who uncovers a dangerous secret that could ignite a war between humans and the androids known as replicants. K’s discovery leads him on an investigation that makes him question his identity and what it means to be human. His journey also leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who has been missing since the events of the first film.
Right off the bat, I have to mention the film’s strongest selling point: the cinematography. This film is a visual masterpiece and the cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is to thank for this. Add some stunning visual effects to the mix, and you have one of the most gorgeous films of the year.
There were times where I was looking at the screen in complete awe because of how breathtaking the visuals were.
Audiences need to allow 2049 to bask them in its bleak, dystopian, and sometimes beautiful atmosphere. Otherwise, most of the film’s experience is lost or misunderstood. Actually, I want to watch the film again so I can experience it without having to follow the plot.
I also need to give props to the actors. Everyone involved does a stellar job. Ryan Gosling gives a fantastic performance as the lead. Gosling has frequently proven that he has the range and talent to hit those acting high notes, and he fits the role of K like a glove.
Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard. The character has changed since we last saw him in the first film and Ford does a great job portraying this change.
This was also a redeeming role for Jared Leto considering his recent, less than convincing performance in Suicide Squad.
The film also provides a superb supporting cast. Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, and even Dave Bautista, who had a very minor role in the beginning of the film, all brought their A-game.
2049 even does a great job at presenting its story. I appreciate the slow pace of the film. It isn’t too slow where the film feels like it is dragging along, but it is slow enough so the audience can take in and absorb the story and atmosphere. It definitely is refreshing to see this rather than a Hollywood blockbuster that cuts from one action scene to the next.
One of the films greatest strengths was how it revealed its mystery and all of the twists and turns in between.
The only minor complaints I have with the story were the flashbacks and callbacks to previous scenes and some convenient plot points. It almost feels like the movie thinks it needs to dumb itself down for its audience, which only hurts the overall experience.
In short, Blade Runner 2049 is nothing short of a masterpiece. This film is not for everyone, however. Just take a look at the box office numbers. It isn’t doing very well. I was in a mostly empty theater when I saw it. The people in front of me left halfway through the movie.
But, if you are a fan of the original Blade Runner, or a fan of sci-fi, or a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s previous work, you should go see this movie. It is not your typical action-packed sci-fi film, and that is a good thing.
2049 is a refreshing and unique change of pace from the hollow, cash grabs that Hollywood likes to churn out every year.
Blade Runner 2049 throws everyone’s expectations out the window and provides audiences with a rare and rich experience.