Director: Denis Villeneuve
Run Time: 2h 44m
Blade Runner 2049 is a beautiful sci-fi noir that may be long, but intentionally so.
30 years after the events in Blade Runner, the world hasn’t changed much. The biggest difference is a new breed of Replicants has emerged but they are more controllable than their series 6 predecessors. The creations of Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) these new Replicants are not prone to the rebellion that the robots have been known for in years past. Nevertheless, the need for Blade Runners still exists. Young K (Ryan Gosling) is one of them. However, on a run he discovers a secret that could upset the balance that the world has come to know. It’s his job to uncover the truth of the greatest cover-up in modern history. But more importantly, he may uncover a truth about himself. With an edgy handler (Robin Wright) and a perfect AI girlfriend (Ana de Armas), K holds the missing piece to an earth-shattering mystery. One that involves another famous Blade Runner: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
As I sated in my review of the original Blade Runner, I saw 2049 prior to watching its predecessor. I researched the basics so I wouldn’t be totally lost but I knew nothing of the film itself. I have to say I am glad it turned out this way so I was not left with a sour taste in my mouth prior to seeing Denis Villeneuve’s genius work.
The cinematography in 2049 is among the best you’ll ever see. There are so many breathtaking shots that I’ll be surprised if we don’t see this title pop up during awards season in this category. Framing, coloring, symmetry (or lack thereof)… Forgive my vulgarity, but it was truly an orgasm for your eyes.
Blade Runner 2049‘s lengthy run time will no doubt scare a few viewers away. Closing in on 3 hours is not the cinematic norm, but I assure you that every bit of information and backstory we witness is necessary. Are some scenes longer than they could have been? Sure. But every scene is vital to the plot and to the character development. We wouldn’t get the full picture of K’s journey if anything had been left on the cutting room floor. Perhaps I was so pleased with the decision to make such a long movie because of Hollywood’s push for cash cows these days. Too often we are given trilogies or sagas that could very easily have been condensed. Rather than split 2049 up and add fluff to potentially make a few million dollars more, Villeneuve was gifted with creating a single masterpiece that told a complete story. Thank you, Sir, for not pulling a Hobbit.
Ryan Gosling may be most known for his heartthrob roles, but he is excellent in this movie. His character is subdued in his approach to interacting with others and he mostly remains focused on the task at hand, but there is a subtle depth in K. An anguish of an inner turmoil that requires an astute actor to pull off. Gosling is that actor. His portrayal of K was nothing short of extraordinary. Ana de Armas may have played an artificial being, but she still managed to bring such soul to K’s love interest. The scenes they shared were beautiful. Even though Harrison Ford didn’t make his entrance until Act II, it’s always a pleasure to watch him work. The chemistry between Gosling and Ford was top-notch. My biggest disappointment comes in the form of Jared Leto. I think he’s a good actor, and a great musician. But Wallace was a really dumb character who was supposed to be a major threat and ended up being a major bore instead. His second-in-command, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) was more engaging than Leto and I couldn’t help but tune out most of what he said. It may have been vital to the plot, but I was distracted by Leto’s delivery.
Perhaps my favorite thing of this film came in the form of its “gotcha” moment. I spent the entire movie being certain I knew what was happening and where we were headed. I was so ready to be disappointed when everything wrapped up exactly the way all the signs pointed. But alas…I was wrong. So gloriously wrong. In famous Villeneuve fashion, there’s always a surprise waiting. Just remember that.
I was not a fan of the first Blade Runner. And I went into this one without having seen its prequel. If those are the two things holding you back from experiencing 2049, I encourage you to take a chance. It’s worth seeing on the big screen for the visuals alone, but it’s more than a pretty face. It’s a great film.
Though I was not a huge fan of Arrival, it is a prime example of Villeneuve’s genius. He is capable of making a film beautiful as well as intelligent. Just like Blade Runner 2049. Read more about my Arrival thoughts here.
However, I was a fan of Prisoners. Not at all a sci-fi, but still a testament to Villeneuve’s abilities as a director.