Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner wasn’t a hit when it came out. In fact, it was a box office flop; it was only in VHS sales that it gained a cult following to the point that it was claimed a classic in latter decades. The film explored what it meant to be human, and did it with a noir backdrop. 30 years later, we’ve been given a sequel: Blade Runner 2049.
Blade Runner 2049 follows an LAPD cop, K (Ryan Gosling), who is a blade runner tasked with “retiring” old versions of “replicants” (aka human-like AI robots). K follows clues from one of his cases, pulling at strings attached to something way bigger than he could imagine.
I try to keep the plot vague because for the majority of the film you’re kept in the dark, but that’s not to say that the storyline is very complex, in fact it’s very simplistic. There is a sizeable plot-twist at the end, but overall the story is a bit of a letdown, certainly, the original 1982 film had a much more intriguing plot and witty dialogue. Blade Runner 2049 is largely a visual film; in fact, the film plays to all the senses it can reach: be it your eyes with the stunning cinematography from Roger Deakins or even your ears with some reverberating music and fabulous sound design.
Director Dennis Villeneuve has won over fans very quickly with his previous works (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival), so I was very excited to see him take the helm of this beloved material, and he doesn’t disappoint. Villeneuve not only spins the story to seem more intriguing than it is, but he gets some fabulous performances from Gosling, Harrison Ford (who returns), and actresses Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas.
I certainly enjoyed Blade Runner 2049, there’s plenty of eye candy to go around (some of it very objectifying towards women), but that’s not to say that the film lived up to the staggering expectations I had. It is unnecessarily long (clocking at over 2 hours and 40 minutes) with incredibly long and paused shots, the story was a letdown for those who know Villeneuve’s story-telling style and saw this veer into generic territory, and I had a big problem with enunciation. Yes, it seems very nit-picky, but I had a very hard time understanding lines that were being delivered; the actors were simply mumbling in whispers, and I ended up spending more time trying to piece together a sentence I’d missed than focusing on the meaning of the scene.
Blade Runner 2049 is certainly a very worthy sequel to the original, but it doesn’t top it in any way. It is a different style, but it greatly reduces the philosophical exploration and the narrative complexity that made the first Blade Runner such a fan favorite.