Details: Released in 2017. Stars Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. About two hours and twenty-five minutes long.
Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the original Blade Runner released in 1982. Like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049’s strongest points are its visuals and the tone and atmosphere that it seeks to create. No spoilers ahead.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place in the year 2049, thirty-two years after the events of the first Blade Runner movie. The movie takes place in a futuristic world where replicants — genetically engineered humans — perform slave labor for actual humans. The story centers on a replicant named K. K is a Blade Runner, an officer of the law who hunts down rogue replicants. We follow K as he tracks down a specific replicant and learns more about his world and himself.
Like the original Blade Runner, this story is your standard police investigation story. With each clue that K discovers, we learn more about the replicant he is tracking as well as of the world K lives in. More so than conveying its plot, Blade Runner 2049 is a movie that wants the viewer to explore its world and establish a tone. The story is largely a vehicle just for that.
The best part about this film are easily the visuals. Like the prior film, the cinematography, the art direction, and the special effects are incredible. The set designs and locations are amazing to look at. The special effects also need a mention as they are some of the best I’ve ever seen. There were some parts that looked so real that I questioned whether what I was looking at was computer generated or not, even though I knew there was no way that could be real. Specifically, there is some facial special effects work here that matches or even surpasses anything I’ve seen in any other film.
The audio also deserves a mention. The music is brooding and loud and pulsating in a way that permeates your whole body. They did a great job making music that sounded similar to what was in Blade Runner, yet still superior and set the mood. I also enjoyed how guns sounded in this film, like rapid fire cannons.
The performances were all right. This is a movie about robots so it’s not surprising that the performances were mostly robotic. I will say that Harrison Ford has entered the realm of actors who got old and can only portray one character (e.g. Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, etc). In other words, he can portray emotion, but he cannot become a different person. Watching Ford out there trying to portray the character he was in the original Blade Runner was painful to watch. It was like watching Han Solo again from Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Indiana Jones from The Last Crusade. Ford’s original character was a lot more quiet and brooding. Ford was not that way in this film.
Overall, Blade Runner 2049 is a good movie, if not exhausting. This film is long, brooding and introspective. While the story isn’t spectacular, the sights and sounds this film conveys are incredible. I’m not sure I would recommend this film to everyone, but if you have some patience, are a fan of the original Blade Runner and science fiction, then this film may be enjoyable to you.