Blade Runner 2049 review
This era has seen a resurgence of storytelling from the 1980s. This doesn’t just mean reboots and sequels from that time, but the themes of that as well. One such is the dystopian future. People tend to forget that the idea of a future in shambles was once new and fresh. Ray Bradbury once said that he wrote dystopian stories to prevent, not make the future. Once movies like Terminator, Soylent Green, and Robocop became popular, every science-fiction story had to get in on that game. One movie however, got out one of the most intriguing and impressive visions of tomorrow, Blade Runner.
Based on the Philip K. Dick story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner is a heavily layered story about the moral consequences of recreating the human consciousness and whether they would even help humanity. It became a cult classic that many critics have gone to claim as one of the greatest movies of all time. I myself like it fine, though see it as too slow and dull to watch multiple times. It’s a movie I highly respect for it’s design, but do care about its themes. I was intrigued to return to this world in Blade Runner 2049.
In 2049, human androids called “replicants” have been engineered to obey and have become a part of society to ensure humanity’s survival. A replicant named K (played by Ryan Gosling) works for the LAPD as a “blade runner” who hunts and “retires” the older replicant models who can go rogue (like from the previous movie). His investigation into “retiring” another replicant Sapper (played by Dave Bautista), he finds a set of human remains. After having them analyzed, they appear to be remains of a replicant. To add on to that, it died from an emergency C-section. This is baffling, as pregnancy was thought impossible for replicants.
K is ordered his superior Joshi (played by Robin Wright) to destroy all the evidence in the case. When he returns to scene of the crime from earlier, he finds a date that corresponds to something that happened when K was younger. This leads him to examine whether he may or may not be a replicant. He tracks down former blade runner Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) to find answers. At the same time, replicant creator and head of the Wallace Corporation Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto) sends his enforcer Luv (played by Sylvia Hoeks) to go after K.
Considering how things could have gone, a sequel to Blade Runner is a major gamble. Thankfully, Blade Runner 2049 is the rare movie that continues to build upon the world that was established before, and even improves on the original. Yes, I think that this is better then the 1982 classic. Director Denis Villeneuve has managed to take the two things that made original memorable and expand on them here; the style and substance.
I’ll say upfront that Blade Runner 2049 has to be one of the greatest looking movies of all time. And I’m not just talking about the design of the tech noir architecture of Los Angeles (which actually has a chance to look larger then before), but within the cinematography. Every shot is like a beautiful painting of high technological tragedy that reflects the future of humanity and it’s reliance on the dreams and fears of tomorrow. I’ll say now that this movie may have won all the technical awards, but I’ll bet my money that it’s cinematographer will go home with an Oscar. This is a rare time that I feel like I’m seeing the two hundred million dollar budget with every penny spent well.
The script builds further on the fears of Phillip K. Dick and his fascination with where we could go wrong. The themes of the moral consequences will make you question whether humanity in this world is even worth saving. Who knows? This movie is just as layered as the original, if not more, as replicants seem to be more in the spotlight, therefor throwing you off as you constantly have to figure out just how much more human are the androids? Even with the new restrictions given here.
If I had any problem, is that the movie may be a little too long. I may be in the minority, but I still catch glimpses of the dull pace that I didn’t like for the original. At nearly three hours, that’s a lot to ask from a mainstream audience. I know that fans of the original won’t care, but what about the newcomers. You don’t necessarily have to seen the original Blade Runner to enjoy this, but it helps. Wouldn’t it have hurt to add an intermission, just so that we can catch our breath?
I’ll give this five wooden horses out of five. Even if your not a science fiction fan, I still encourage you to catch this…in theaters at my most insistent. All that style is going to be a visual thanksgiving on the big screen. So check it out to see this is a memory that won’t be lost… like tears in the rain.