Blade Runner 2049 is a refreshing take on a classic that doesn’t involve it being a remake or a reboot. I wouldn’t even categorize it as a sequel, as it is pretty removed from the original, aside from casting Harrison Ford (Star Wars) as a supporting character. Blade Runner does a good thing here in not relying on nostalgia, cheap jokes, or large action sequences to mesmerize its audience. Instead, it wows us through incredible direction and the clever manipulation of light. This is all thanks to its director, Dennis Villeneuve, and cinematographer, Roger Deakins—both of whom worked together on Sicario.
That is not to say that Blade Runner does not have its faults. The issues mainly sprout from one area: that being the script. I am firmly convinced that the narrative is more important than anything else in a movie. However, I believe that there was just enough substance in the script for it not to sink the entire cinematic ship.
Taking place in the year (you guessed it) 2049, Ryan Gosling (La La Land) plays a cop for the LAPD who is tasked with the job of hunting down older model “replicants” who have gone rogue. What are these replicants?
Basically, replicants are androids that do the bidding of humans, even if that means killing themselves. These rogue replicants, however, have developed free will, and thus have run away in the attempt to live lives void of subservience to humans.
Okay, back to Gosling. He plays a cop that goes only by the name, K. Actually, there are several numbers after the “K,“ and that is because he is an installment of the new and improved replicants that never go rogue. K hunts down these rogue replicants, but while doing so, uncovers something dark and mysterious about his own past.
I really liked how the film opened, just throwing you right into the fray. I did however feel disconnected with K, because we find out right away that he is a replicant. Fortunately, that does not last long, as we come to find out that K is in a relationship with an artificial intelligence, which is actually pretty poetic in its own right.
I would have liked Dave Bautista’s (Guardians of the Galaxy) character to have a larger role in the film, as his character had so much potential. And while characters like Bautista would have benefitted the movie by being in it longer, others would have been better if they weren’t there at all. The character that comes to mind is billionaire, businessman, and savior of humanity, Niander Wallace. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad) plays Wallace, and sadly the role was a waste of Leto’s talent. He was only in the film for exposition (to tell the audience something) or to show how violent the hunt for replicants really is.
But for every bad character, there is a good one. You might think I am talking about Gosling or Ford. You would be wrong. The standout actor in this film is Sylvia Hoeks (Renegades) who is relatively new to the silver screen. Her portrayal of the heartless replicant killer, Luv, was absolutely exhilarating. She took on her role so well that she should throw her hat into the ring come Oscar season.
To justify my stance on the film’s unfulfilling script, it just comes down to how elementary it was. Blade Runner attempts to pass itself off as an existential piece of poetry about humanity, but ends up being as rudimentary as it gets. The story seems to meander from point A to point B, and when it comes to the end, the payoff almost doesn’t seem worth it.
That being said, even though this film is almost three hours long, and does wear on you a little, it is fairly well-paced. Villeneuve is a master of the slow burn, and while he executes to perfection, the plot itself does not. This is a decent movie, especially for fans of its predecessor and of cinema itself. As for the average moviegoer, I guess it’s up to you. Blade Runner is a sci-fi thriller that relies on beautiful cinematography and an alternate reality to engross its audience.
7.5 of 10
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Cover photo from youtube.com