I’ve never made it a secret at all that I am a massive Blade Runner fan; it honestly might be my favorite movie. So when Ridley Scott started talking a few years ago about a sequel I got a bit excited, but also very nervous since I think the original is a near perfect movie. But the sequel is finally here now and I made sure I had my ticket for opening night and saw it last night. Now that I’ve slept a little and gotten to think on it more I’m excited to tell you what I think of Blade Runner 2049.
The film starts with us following K (Ryan Gosling) who is a Blade Runner in 2049. Blade Runners are police officers that hunt and ‘retire’ or kill rogue Replicant, or human appearing robots that are more powerful. K is actually Replicant himself who is designed to be obedient and as such is allowed to live on Earth with a relative freedom. When he goes out to retire a Replicant and also ends up finding some bones buried near its home that lead to a greater mystery he must uncover. K must uncover it for his boss Lietenant Joshi (Robin Wright) while also dealing with what it means to him and his sense of self and humanity. This leads to adventure with his hologram wife Joi (Ana de Armas) and eventually even finding the original Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) along the way.
Now that we have that out of the way I’m just going to come out and say that Blade Runner 2049 is both visually and narratively stunning. Director Denis Villeneuve clearly had a clear understanding of the important parts of the story and world from the original film and builds on it beautifully. The urban sprawl and decay of this pretty much post-apocalyptic Los Angeles clearly is the same from the first film after 30 more years of growth and fallout. Roger Deakins on Cinematography proves why he is one of the best in the business as he brings that all to life and also has some scenes that are so stunningly beautiful the will be stick with you for a while. The original film had a lot of slow panning shots and dynamic scenes and Deakins really keeps that alive while breathing new life into the city and its neon colored holograms. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t credit Hanpton Fancher who wrote the first film and came back for this one to write the screenplay with Michael Green as they write a fantastic mystery and a really alive feeling future world. The film is long and can move slow which at times can be a bit of an issue for some I’m sure, but this team really worked together to make everything as engaging as possible. Especially with it scored by Hans Zimmer taking a lot of notes from Vangelis’s score for the original that really brings a great retro-futurist synth sound. Just a really magical experience when it comes together.
The cast and characters also really create an interesting dynamics and bring believability into this mystery. Ryan Gosling taking the lead here really owns his character and is believable as a robot who is starting to look for more in his existence in little things and to dream of something more. The definition of “humanity” and “life” are major themes for Blade Runner and he embodies them well, especially with his “wife” Joi who de Armas really brings to life well. Joi is a holographic companion and while she is just an AI construct there is really just so much life and true love and energy to her thanks for the performance. Robin Wright is really fantastic as his commanding officer who clearly has a soft spot for K even though she has some distrust of Replicants. Harrison Ford was in rare form for him these days and really commanded the screen when he was there, and he especially was fantastic in the scenes opposite Gosling too. There were some smaller characters I also feel deserve some notice, namely Jared Leto as Niander Wallace, the head of the evil company making Replicants now who has a god complex. Sylvia Hoeks as Luv his second in command and a Replicant that does all his wet work really kills it as a cold calculating tool who wants to be recognized. Dave Bautista briefly shows up for a fantastic fight and shows some great range as Sapper. And lastly Mackenzie Davis as Mariette, a Replicant prostitute who plays a reasonable role in K’s journey. I wish I could spend more time on each of these performances but its better for you to just experience them yourself.
I don’t take it lightly when I give a film a 5 out of 5, but Blade Runner 2049 is the best of all possible outcomes of a sequel to the original Blade Runner which is one of my favorite movies. It could be slow or too deep for some people, and I won’t fault those tings taking away from the film for some, but I think this film builds wonderfully on the world and story while also not falling into some of the issues the original had. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner but love good sci-fi, like Ex-Machina then you really need to.