Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review: Nobody Does It Better
It’s been 35 years after ‘Blade Runner’ was gifted to the world. The 1982 Sci-fi noir thriller with philosophical undertones changed the face of cinema and is one of the more intelligent blockbusters there is. Since its release, many have tried to capture the film’s magic. Right down to the hyper-neon, yet bleak aesthetic it was famous for. Some have come close, but nothing has really come close to a mastery of tone and world-building that made the original Blade Runner so revolutionary. Until now.
Blade Runner 2049 is not a film I wanted. I felt as though the open ending of the first film fit its themes of perception versus reality. The sequel does give viewers a few answers, but it’s hardly the episodic followup I feared it would be. Instead, the movie is very much as grounded as the original. Much of the movie is spent following a new Blade Runner, this time played by Ryan Gosling. So I guess that settles it folks. We finally have a new Harrison Ford. Sorry Chris.
The tendency with sequels is to go broad. Bigger means bolder. The problem is so few of them actually provide that in a meaningful way. Blade Runner 2049 deftly subsides that problem and delivers a wider narrative much less personal than the original, but crafts it around an entirely more personal character arc. It’s a beautiful synergy of plot and character development that makes ‘Blade Runner 2049’ feel nothing short of perfect.
You have Ryan Gosling, flexing his sullen muscles as hard as he has since ‘Drive’, Harrison Ford yet again returning to a long time role, and even the side characters have huge names attached to them. The thing is, you’re never distracted by Robin Wright as the hard-ass lieutenant, Dave Bautista as the rogue replicant. Every piece of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ feels intricately woven together, working to support a greater purpose. Even Jared Leto, hair slicked back with eyes aglow, didn’t take me out of the film.
Performances and script structure aside, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is stunning. A true marvel. Denis Villenueve is a modern-day visionary. An absolutely beautiful film from start to finish. Blade Runner 2049 is one of those films I could put on with the sound completely off. Of course, then I would miss the superb sound design, score, and gripping dialogue that catapults the film into being one of my absolute favourites of the year.
Then there’s, of course, Villenueve’s trademark tension. Sicario. Prisoners. Arrival. Films that make their bones on chilling yours. None of that is lost here. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is futuristic noir detective movie that at times shares the film sensibilities of horror. And why shouldn’t it? The film already is drenched in intense darks and neon. The moments of tension feel entirely in place. The moments you feel uneasy match the sentiment of the characters.
It’s hard not to be cynical about movies, especially as everything old becomes new again. As remakes, sequels and reboots continue to plague the art form, it’s a pleasure to find one that feels like a labour of love. It’s a sincere, interesting and compelling film. One that feels justified in its 3 hour runtime. Not many films these days have the sense of being a true epic. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is.