The strangest thing about the future is that this is now the future we once foretold. Twenty years ago, we thought of "now" as "the year 1982." These were the words that opened Roger Ebert’s review of Blade Runner back in 1982. Thirty five years later this quote couldn’t be more on point when you refer to the sequel/reboot/whatever you want to call it “Blade Runner 2049” – BR2049.
But this time we know we are not living (yet) in that dystopian future created for the screen by Ridley’s Scott original masterpiece. This time we are transported all the way to 2049 (hence the name) which goes deeper into the original mythos and themes: Does it matter if we are or not humans as a long as we feel human? We eat, we sleep, we love. Does it matter if one of these routines and emotions was created in a lab? Denis Villeneuve’s film asks these questions while making a futuristic thriller that gives the original a runs for its money. Emotionally deep while being remarkably entertaining is the first thing that goes through my mind when thinking of this film.
As if you didn’t already know before reading this… “Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.” - storyline provided by replicant from Warner Brothers.
Not only has 35 years of film, video games and TV been influenced by the original Blade Runner film but the new film’s director as well. Denis Villeneuve recently said, “at the time [he] was starting to dream about directing movies” then called the original film a “director’s movie.” He then apologized to writer Hampton Fancher (who also wrote the original film) sitting close by. He mentioned that the script for the new film gave him the “necessary space for a director” which allowed him to put his own stamp and sensibilities as one of the hottest filmmakers in town to the project. For the project, apparently decades in the making, the director revisited all the drafts that Fancher and Michael Green did using the first few as his template when the project was finally greenlit. Thank God (Eldon Tyrell in this case) for auto save.
Pulling off a great sequel from a highly regarded masterpiece is an achievement on itself but another great aspect of experiencing the film was that even after watching the trailers and other marketing pieces (3 short films that promoted it are a great watch before going into this) nothing got spoiled going into the theater. The twists, turns and reveals on this film felt like a breath of fresh air for blockbusters today. If anything, the trailers might have sold the movie as a more sci-fi action driven film instead of a more deep though artistic flare you barely see anymore in theaters. In a way you can place this film in the same league as Ex-Machina, Arrival (also directed by Villeneuve) and Mad Max: Fury Road. There is enough ridiculously amazing visuals, great story telling and Sci-Fi for adults (What is that?) to make you ask, “how the hell does this film even exist?” Well it does, and the film is better for it.
From great performances by Ryan Gosling as the new Blade Runner Officer K, and Harrison Ford’s Deckard returning to the screen, to Ana de Armas playing K’s love interest, the cast could not be more perfect every time a human, A.I. or replicant is on the screen. Special breakout role belongs to Sylvia Hoeks (she is blond in real life?) who almost steals every scene she is in.
With all production aspects being top notch, it will be a travesty if the film doesn’t AT LEAST get nominated during award season for Cinematography, Production Design, Sound and Music. Blade Runner 2049 has raised the bar for Science Fiction.
A few minor complaints might include how long the movie is. Two hours and forty three minutes (make sure not to order the extra large soda while watching this) might sound long but with the impeccable pacing of the film it never feels to drag even in it’s most intimate and longer moments.
My biggest and main issue with the film is not it’s length but that Harrison Ford’s Deckard does not affect the plot during the film at all. Nothing Deckard does in the film does nothing to move the story. Yet, he is great in every scene he is in to the point that I wonder if there was a draft at some point that had him in the lead. Small part but extraordinarily played. After watching him return to Star Wars in the “The Force Awakens” and now this, he reminds you how much he can do on screen. One particular scene with Niander Wallace (Non-Joker mode Jared Leto) shows you Ford’s best dramatic work in years. Even if his role doesn’t do much for the story I wouldn’t be surprise if he gets nominated for supporting actor.
Ford, also recently said about BR 2049, “was a great opportunity to expand the audience’s understanding of the character.” That they did.
Dazzling you visually from the opening shot just like with the original masterpiece, this worthy sequel will stay with you long after the credits rolled. Blade Runner 2049 is not just the best summer film of 2017 but a top contender for best film of the year.
P.S. Lots of subplot loose threads by the end of the film leave the door open for more sequels. Replicant uprising? Can’t wait. Experience Blade Runner 2049, in theaters October 6.