Blade Runner: 2049

Verdict

Denis Villeneuve has crafted yet another sci-fi masterpiece. Gorgeously filmed with an instantly-classic score, you will have made a huge mistake if you choose to miss this one. Buy the ticket immediately.


Review

The Good: There’s not enough space or time to cover it all.

If we have only one kudo to give, then to cinematographer Roger Deakins (Shawshank RedemptionSkyfall, among others) it goes. This is as a breathtakingly beautiful film. The colors float between gorgeous futuristic neons and dystopian earthen tones. Even during the action scenes the camera tends to take its time, slowly sweeping over the visuals, letting the audience drink it all in.

Ryan Gosling continues to impress, with this role demanding that he withhold his normally abundant charisma. Harrison Ford and Robin Wright are as talented as ever. Sylvia Hoeks is terrifying, and establishes her talent for action.

But its Ana de Armas (War Dogs) who steals the show. She portrays an A.I. companion program called Joi, and does so with an unexpected sincerity and emotion. This is a career jump-start, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Of course, none of this is possible without the deft hand of director Denis Villeneuve. The same slow-burn technique used in Arrival is again apparent here. The two and a half hour runtime is certainly long, but it never feels excessive. There is a very simple story he has set out to tell, but along the way, Villeneuve explores the depths of humanity in smaller vignettes. And it’s these smaller stories, much like the original, that turn the film into an instant must-watch.

And yet, with all this aside, it is the score that takes the victory. Composer Benjamin Wallfisch should be on the lookout for an Oscar, as should the sound design and editing departments. You find me a more diegetic, world building, and impactful score since the original Blade Runner, and you’ll be a liar.

The Bad: Jared Leto’s character is a tad confusing.

The main plot is a bit predictable by the end, but it doesn’t detract from the film.

The only critique I had was for Leto’s character; his   in the film is confusing. The performance was fine, with Leto leaning into being unsettling and detached from normal human emotion. But the character acts as the “primary” antagonist, despite Hoeks being far more consequential and involved. His only real purpose, so far as I can tell, is to serve as the deity for the film’s heavy religious parables.

The Ugly: Villeneuve can use his clout to make some changes.

In Villeneuve’s short-but-celebrated career, he has made some excellent films, spanning genres and size. But one thing has stayed pretty consistent: every one of them has a white lead. After Arrival and Blade Runner: 2049, he’s proven himself a deeply capable, creative, and skilled director. Villeneuve now has the clout to make positive change. He would be wise to do so.


Synopsis

This sequel to Ridley Scott’s landmark 1982 science-fiction film picks up the story 30 years later, giving viewers another detailed look at a future in which humanity live in polluted, overcrowded cities and rely on androids known as “replicants” for slave labor. In 2049 Los Angeles, K (Ryan Gosling) works as a “blade runner,” a specialized law-enforcement agent dedicated to tracking down and killing rogue replicants. But when he uncovers a shocking conspiracy involving the robot laborers, he searches for the one person who might have answers: a former blade runner named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who vanished decades earlier. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario). Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto co-star. ~ Jack Rodgers, Rovi

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Originally from the bear-infested schools of Wyoming, but now lives in Chicago. More importantly, he achieved minor Twitter fame once and hasn’t stopped bringing it up since. He has a healthy obsession with Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Bulbasaur. Please validate him by following him on Twitter, @ericsmorals

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