BLADE RUNNER 2049 is one of the best sequels ever made and the best film of the year so far, eclipsing Dunkirk on my list. A science fiction masterpiece, that on my level, is far superior than the original science fiction classic. It has taken me a couple of days to write this review because I wanted the movie to completely sink in. Make sure that I didn’t have some kind of false movie high while watching it. Making sure that I couldn’t stop thinking about the film after I have seen it. Sure enough, it is not a fluke and the film has completely been on the forefront of my movie train of thought since seeing it Saturday morning. It is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen, with the best cinematography since Inception, and if Roger Deakins doesn’t win an Oscar for best cinematography this year, after being nominated 13 times for other films and never winning, something is truly off with the Academy Awards.
I am not surprised this film didn’t make all that much money this weekend. I don’t think a lot of people truly “get” Blade Runner and that while it is a simple story with very little action on the surface, underneath it has layers upon layers of thoughts and questions such as “what does it mean to be human?” or “what is real?” It mixes these questions with fantastic digital imagery and a very dark noir detective tale that makes it seems like you are reading a very dark comic book from the 50s and 60s. It’s completely masterful. If only viewing this movie on the surface, you are going to be confused why so many non mainstream critics and people are completely bonkers over this film. This is a film that requires multiple viewings and your complete undivided attention. Which might be hard for a lot of you, considering the movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes long.
Would I say that the original Blade Runner is required viewing before watching this? Abso-fucking-lutely. In fact, you might even need to watch the three short films that are available online and youtube for free that take place between the original and the sequel. If you watch all of these, you will be completely ready for this experience. And the funny thing about all of this? I think the original Blade Runner is a very good film, but not a masterful science fiction noir masterpiece like some critics are claiming. The original Blade Runner is a technological achievement to be sure, has all the questions and symbolism right there for you to decipher, but narratively, it just doesn’t work for me. There isn’t that much detective work, and things seems to happen just to happen and people seem to run into each other and not really meet. There is a part in the original film where Harrison Ford uses this really weird accent and way of talking, where he didn’t really need to be doing it. It was just there, and narratively it suffers.
But all that is solved here. 2049 has a fantastic story. I loved that you think you know where it is going at a certain point, but it pulls the plug on that and goes in a different direction. It uses symbolism, imagery, and everything that the movie mother! tried to do, it does it correctly and not so in your face here. And the movie doesn’t try and over do it either. Usually with sequels you do the “more is better” way of filmmaking or completely change the genre of the film (which most of the time doesn’t work, but sometimes works to great effect, see: Aliens). Here, the imagery is just as masterful yet subtle and not all in your face like it was in the original. While the trailers make this look like an action film, which would completely change the context of Blade Runner, it is not an action film. It has a couple of action beats, but it only lasts a second and is pivotal to the story and doesn’t get in the way of anything else.
I’ve always thought Ryan Gosling is a great actor, and in here, he shines as well playing a Blade Runner named K. Harrison Ford is back too, playing the gruff guy he usually plays now, but there are a couple of scenes where he inhabits Deckard again, and we are reminded why Ford was deemed an incredible actor several decades ago. Just don’t expect him in the movie the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes. Which I loved about this film as well. They don’t just put Deckard in there to have a familiar face, he only comes in when he is pivotal to the story. Jared Leto is actually fine here as well, and Robin Wright has a small role as K’s commanding officer, but acting wise, the true standout is formal model Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, basically an assassin replicant meant to get in K’s way. She completely dominates the screen in every scene she is in, and is one of the most menacing henchmen I have seen in decades.
I can’t tell you the plot of Blade Runner 2049. To tell you any of it, is a spoiler in general, and you would honestly thank me after seeing it for not saying a word. If you want to go into it without seeing the original, just know that there are being calls replicants which are bioengineered human beings meant to be a slave labor force, and there are cops called Blade Runners that hunt them down when those replicants turn on their masters and go rogue. Anything else would ruin the movie for you.
I thought everything about this film was perfect, and even at 2 hours and 40 minutes, I can’t wait to view this film multiple times like I have Inception. I was enthralled the entire film. I was sucked in and wasn’t let go until the end credits rolled. I was surprised, in a good way, by a lot of choices made in the film. It is one of the most beautiful works of art visually I have ever seen. This movie must be seen in a theater with a good screen and perfect sound. Anything else would be a disservice. I am in love with this movie.