The original Blade Runner was a divisive film when it was first released back in 1982. Critics were mixed and fans did not go to see it; they could see that it was a film with potential though. However, as the years have past, the film has been edited, tweaked, cut, refined and rearranged more times than a modern pop music remix. Ten years ago, a version called the Final Cut was released and this was the one I reviewed very recently, mostly as it is considered the best. All of this has added up to an enormous cult following for this movie, possibly greater than any other, but even its great advocates would admit that it still remains a flawed masterpiece. The strain put on the sequel is therefore much greater than your usual part two.
Does Blade Runner 2049 achieve the great heights it is expected to reach?
In my eyes, yes. But it will once again prove to be divisive, making it a very worthy sequel to the original.
The plot section will be remarkably barren for this review because of the nature of the story. The best way for you to follow what is happening is to watch the original (with my recommendation for the Final Cut). You will best understand the narrative if you have seen it. Apart from that, a brief synopsis here is that Ryan Gosling plays Agent K, a Blade Runner (essentially a special type of cop) seeking rogue androids, called Replicants. His search takes him on a twisting and turning story where he encounters Deckard, the Blade Runner from the first film played of course by Harrison Ford. Jared Leto and his assistant Love, portrayed by Sylvia Hoeks, are the creators of the Replicants and share a similar but more nefarious goal as Gosling. And that is all you are getting! I will say that the story is brilliant with some excellent screenwriting from the original Blade Runner writer Hampton Fancher and relative newcomer Michael Green.
The first feature to strike you about this film is the look. It is gorgeous. Bloody gorgeous. Roger Deakins cinematography is beautiful with impactful colours and light throughout- stark whites, shadowy blacks and vibrant injections of other colours. Every frame could be used as a film poster. These really feed into the tone which is incredibly melancholic and thoughtful. Vangelis obviously brought the iconic score for the original and Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallis do well to fill his shoes in continuing his work thematically. But it is more than just pretty. Big ideas are introduced, really making the audience think, much like the best parts of the original. The worst films are those with just the surface level conflicts and events occurring and those that provide the depth are always the ones people come back to time and time again. I think Deep Meaningful Film (DMF) would describe Blade Runner 2049 well. I wish I could get into it further and I hope to in further spoilery discussion pieces!
However, I have some faults, both personal ones I found and ones I perceive from ordinary filmgoers. Let’s start with what I found. Jared Leto did very little for me in his role and I didn’t find myself interested in him as much. I’m not sure his plan was particularly clear either, making it seem a little nonsensical. Next is what I could see people disliking about 2049 and that is the length and pacing. This is a hella long film and I mean hella long! Arse-achingly and bladder-bustingly long. I relished in every moment, either because of the narrative driving forward or the sheer beauty on screen but how the plot is divulged and how it likes to take its time on simple moments that do not actually drive the story forward will certainly alienate some. This has already been seen with the box office numbers.
More people should see this film in my opinion because it is a real talking point. I’m certain it will garner lots of attention in the upcoming awards season because it succeeds in almost every fashion for film lovers. I shall not deny that there are some problems, much like its father, but it is a defining piece of cinema in 2017 for certain. Get watching!