“Blade Runner 2049”- Movie Review

 

In the summer of 1982, Ridley Scott’s neo-noir masterwork, Blade Runner, was released into theaters. Despite an immediate lukewarm reception and a history of alternative versions, the film has since achieved cult status, and has since become a major source of influence for countless science-fiction films. My first encounter with Blade Runner was in college, when I had to watch it for a class. I didn’t love it- and I admittedly still don’t- but I understood it as a work of art. I can see it has that cinematic spark, a beautifully hypnotic quality that has successfully carried on into its long-awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049.

Thirty years have passed since the events of the first film. New models of bio-engineered humans called “replicants” have since integrated into modern society, while the older models are sought out for termination. K (Ryan Gosling), a Blade Runner for the LAPD, is tasked with carrying out this duty. Along the way he unearths a deep-rooted secret from the past. As he investigates it further, he realizes just how significant this secret is, and how if it comes to light, his world will be forever changed.

Blade Runner 2049 has many surprises. So much so that even summarizing the plot proves tricky because you run the risk of teetering into spoiler territory. I went in to this movie cold. I saw one trailer and only watched it once. I avoided reviews, featurettes, clips, and the like. And I’m glad that I did, because I was captivated from start to finish.

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As soon as the film opened I felt like I’d stepped into a different world. Everything about it feels one hundred percent authentic- the breathtakingly gorgeous set designs, the technology, the seamless CGI work. Director Denis Villeneuve clearly put his heart and soul into re-creating Ridley Scott’s original vision, and leaves no stone unturned in terms of the amount of detail put into every single shot.

But we all know it takes more than good looks to make a film great. Every actor does an excellent job here. Ryan Gosling does especially well, having to portray a stoic exterior while also conveying a turbulent emotional core. Harrison Ford does some of his best work in years in my opinion. Jared Leto, although not given a ton of screen time as the villain, knocks it out of the park with every scene he’s in. Also not to be overlooked is Sylvia Hoeks as Leto’s assistant, Luv. She was interesting and legitimately intimidating.

The film clocks in at two hours and forty-five minutes. For a movie that’s already slowed pace, an over two-and-a-half hour one may seem torturous. You can feel every single minute of this movie. Personally, I was never bored, though I would’ve liked it trimmed down just a smidge. Overall, it’s beautifully crafted, though I’m sure if I’d be dying to see it again. As far as I know, it has the same effect the first movie had on me. I saw it, I’m glad I saw it, but I’m not sure I need to see it again.

Blade Runner 2049 is a work of cinematic art. It does what a proper sequel is supposed to do- expand upon the first while also having its own identity. It’s a fantastically made movie. I recognize it works in terms of the performances, the story, and the cinematography. I just don’t love as much as many people I think will. But if you have the chance to see it, go for it. It’s definitely something every movie-lover would experience.

Cosmic Grade: 4.7 out of 5

 

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