After 35 long years, finally, someone had thought of making the sequel to Ridley Scott's cult classic, Blade Runner. The original movie, released in 1982, was a flop during its release, but developed a strong following later. The sequel is directed by the acclaimed film-maker Denis Villeneuve, with Ryan Gosling playing the main lead. The fans of the original BR movie will also be pleased to know that Harrison Ford will be reprising his role as Deckard. Here's our review of Blade Runner 2049...
What's it about
Set thirty years after what happened in the original movie, Blade Runner 2049 follows Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a young LAPD cop who hunts rogue Replicants and gets them retired or killed. He himself has doubts whether he is a replicant, haunted by what he thinks are false memories of his childhood.
During an assignment to track a rogue replicant, he comes across bones of a woman, who died 30 years ago. He and his team realise that the woman died during childbirth and that she was a replicant, two things that don't make sense. In search of her lost child, K sets on a dangerous path pursued by a ruthless assassin, on the same track as his but with more sinister motives, while also crossing paths with the original Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford).
You have read about it in some of the international reviews, and yeah, it's true! Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most visually stunning movies made in recent times. The world of Blade Runner 2049 has changed a lot from the original movie. The holograms and the life-less but glitzy skyscrapers are there, but Earth is getting more and more inhospitable to live in with barren lands and radioactive terrains. This is no Pandora, but the cinematography by Roger Deakins perfectly captures the dreary post-apocalyptic conditions and make them look visually stunning. Even the quieter moments like of K checking out snowflakes is so beautifully captured. The VFX is stunning; quite low-key compared to a Transformers movie and yet fine enough to make that desolate future believable. The background score by the ever-reliable Hans Zimmer and Roger Walfisch is freaking brilliant and adds another sublime layer to the movie's technical brilliance. Expect an Oscar nomination in almost all technical categories at least, if not a win.
Leaving the technical brilliance aside, I am not getting into the debate as to whether Blade Runner really needed a sequel. But if the sequel had to be made, then Denis Villeneuve was definitely the right man for the job. We had seen in last year's sublimely beautiful Arrival that he can handle complex sci-fi dramas like a pro without faltering much. In his competent hands, Blade Runner 2049 is definitely a well-handled movie, despite its numerous flaws. Fans of the original Blade Runner will be quite happy with the various callbacks to the movie (including a surprise appearance by an unexpected cast member), while it also answers some haggling questions that the original left us asking (whether Deckard is really a replicant).
Talking about the performances, Ryan Gosling is apt as the brooding hero unsure of the truth about his own existence. Harrison Ford, in a supporting capacity this time, lends grace and finesse to the proceedings. Though the movie doesn't much screentime to him, a sinister-looking Jared Leto adds enough creepiness into the proceedings. However, the standout performance is by Sylvia Hoeks. The actress, who left an indelible mark as the mysterious lady of the house in 2013 movie The Better Offer, is a scene-stealer as a ruthless assassin Luv. The rest of the actors are fine.
Blade Runner 2049 may be a technical marvel, but when it comes to the plotting, the benchmark dips several levels low. I know many Hollywood movie fans swear by the original. But I am not a huge fan of the cult classic, though I admit it is a milestone in cinema. Blade Runner 2049 certainly improves upon its predecessor on a lot of facets. However, I do feel that a better plot and stronger development would have made the movie an absolute masterpiece. The basic plot offers nothing to viewers unlike Villeneuve's earlier movies Sicario and Arrival. While Blade Runner 20149 starts on a promising note when it comes to the narrative, it becomes a whole lot predictable as the movie nears the climax. Some of the subplots needed better development, like the romantic arc between K and his AI lover Joi (Ana de Armas). While Deckard and the replicant Rachel's romance was one of stronger arcs of the original, here the romance lacks depth. It also doesn't help matters that their love story is somewhat similar to that of Her, that handled this plot in a much better way. There is also an intimate scene that is an idea borrowed from the Spike Jonze movie. And why does Harrison Ford have kid troubles in every comeback franchise movie he does, be it Indiana Jones and the Kingson of Crystal Skull, Star Wars: A Force Awakens and now this?
Running at a little more than 150 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 is definitely too long, with the slow pace of the movie dragging the movie further. Fans of Dave Bautista will be disappointed with the lack of screentime the wrestler-turned-actor has here.
What to do
Is Blade Runner 2049 the greatest sequel ever made, as some fans have claimed? I don't think so, as that honour still lies with The Godfather Part II and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Blade Runner 2049 is an improvement on the original movie, when it comes to ideas and definitely, technical values. The movie is an absolute marvel visually, but if the narration and the editing had been worked upon, the movie would have ended up as an instant classic. Do watch Blade Runner 2049 if you are a huge fan of the original.
3.0 out of 5
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