35 years in the making: 'Blade Runner 2049' review

Blade Runner 2049

This is how you make a prolonged sequel.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, released in 1982 and starring Harrison Ford, is a controversial film to say the least. There are those who love it and are willing to call it one of the best science-fiction films ever created, and there are also those who find the story to be somewhat a mess and the pacing far too slow.

RELATED: Harrison Ford forgot Ryan Gosling's name while promoting 'Blade Runner 2049,' and it's hilarious

However — regardless of which group you may fall into, there’s still a reason to get excited to see Blade Runner 2049 — Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve is one of the greatest up and coming directors of the next generation. His caliber of work on films like Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario and Arrival prove that his name deserves to be up there with Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg. Now, he’s taking on replicants and Blade Runners to deliver his take on a new sci-fi classic.

Villeneuve and the producers behind the film have asked critics and those reviewing the film to give as few plot details away as possible — given that the basic synopsis of the film itself is indeed a spoiler. So this plot description is going to be left rather vague:

It’s been thirty years since the events of the Blade Runner. Decker (Ford), regardless of how you interpreted the ending of the first film and his true nature, has gone missing. In his place, Agent ‘K’ (Ryan Gosling) has become a new Blade Runner — assigned to hunt down the replicant androids that are illegally living on earth.

In this relatively dystopian future, the world isn’t in such a great shape. Many people live off-planet, causing the major cities in the United States to either be incredibly over-populated or completely deserted. There really is no in-between.

Blade Runner 2049
Credit: YouTube

It's in Los Angeles, now even more crowded and dangerous, Agent K is forced to navigate. After responding to what should have been a simple in-and-out mission, he finds a hidden secret buried away. This sets K down a dark path trying to solve this mystery, leading to his whole world becoming unraveled as he learns what is true and what is not.

Then there’s Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) — the man who took over for Tyrell and is in charge of producing replicants. His views on these manufactured souls differs from the LAPD and from K, as he poses a whole new threat of his own.

Blade Runner 2049
Credit: YouTube

Love or hate the original Blade Runner, most people can at least admire what Scott was trying to create in that film — a noir styled film set in a futuristic world.

Villeneuve captures that in the best way. At last summer’s Comic-Con, Villeneuve publicly stated that he decided to take on Blade Runner 2049 “because I didn’t want anybody else to **** it up.” Clearly inspired from the original film, Villeneuve then uses this to create something wholly original and new. Nothing about Blade Runner 2049 feels like a retread of the first film or is purposefully catering to fan-service. He expands the universe in a way that makes sense, making it all the more engaging while doing so.

The pacing in Blade Runner 2049 mimics the first film and is still probably a bit slower than most movie-goers are use to. However, Villeneuve uses this as another strength, as he deliberately draws out and dangles the mystery he’s presented the audience with in a satisfying fashion. Even though this movie clocks in at 2 hours and 43 minutes, the time spent in the theater seems to fly by.

Then there’s the cinematography — done by Roger Deakins — which provides some of the best visuals you’ll ever see on screen. No joke. Deakins’ work is Oscar-worthy here (the fact that he hasn’t already won one is a crime in itself), as he crafts everything from vast city shots, intimate moments in an apartment, one incredible scene on a casino floor and everything in-between. Visually, this film appears to be note perfect.

Gosling gives another good performance in the film, in a role that seems tailor made for him. Ford isn’t in the film as much as the trailers make him out to be, but when he’s there he has a large presence. Robin Wright as Lieutenant Joshi, Sylvia Hoeks as Jared Leto’s assistant and Ana de Armas as Gosling’s virtual girlfriend also all give stand-out performances.

Blade Runner 2049
Credit: YouTube

Blade Runner 2049 manages to achieve what all prolonged sequels should strive to be. It's able to take what fans liked about the original and build on top of that, rather than simply rebooting it with younger cast members. This is a thinking man’s sci-fi film that raises a lot of complex questions. If you like the first Blade Runner then you’re going to like Blade Runner 2049, but even if you only admire  Blade Runner despite the fact that it never quite clicked with you — like it did me — you still might come out of the theater loving Blade Runner 2049.

Watch the trailer for the film below, and let us know what you thought of Blade Runner 2049 in the comments below.


35 years in the making: 'Blade Runner 2049' review
  • 35 years in the making: 'Blade Runner 2049' review
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.

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