You would think that allowing a movie twelve hours to run through your mind would be enough time to process it. That’s not the case for me with “Blade Runner 2049.” So many different layers to explore and examine. A visual feast for the eyes and so much food for thought for the mind.
Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former “retiring” police officer who’s been missing for 30 years in “Blade Runner 2049.”
The smartest way to review “Blade Runner 2049” is to just start peeling away at its many different layers. Let’s begin with the visuals. The designers of the film do an incredible job of extending the familiar world of the original while giving viewers something new to gaze upon. While the 1982 classic took place mostly at night, Director Denis Villeneuve chose to show the dystopic world in the light of day just as much as in the dark recesses of Los Angeles of the future.
Some of the white rooms and walkways reminded me of the sterilized sets we saw in George Lucas’s “THX-1138.” All of the pieces of the puzzle come together to give “Blade Runner 2049” the same tone as its predecessor while adding new tones to the palette as well.
The special effects for “Blade Runner 2049” are nothing short of breathtaking and, dare I say, groundbreaking. I say groundbreaking because it’s utterly amazing how well the CGI aspects of the movie blend with the practical sets and props. The original film still holds up today because of its use of physical sets and models. “Blade Runner 2049” finds a way to be even more impressive to the eye.
Every actor in “Blade Runner 2049” is absolutely invested in their role, both physically and emotionally. Both Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling deliver performances that will give you goosebumps and possibly bring you to tears at times and leave you giggling at others. Physically, the two run around and take a lick and keep on ticking. Jared Leto stretches his acting chops even further as the creepy and driven architect of the would-be future of android servitude and manufacturing.
When it’s all said and done, “Blade Runner 2049” asks a lot of questions about humanity and what should or shouldn’t be considered an actual lifeform. Does an android that is programmed to feel have any less rights to life because he doesn’t have a soul? Should they just be treated the same as a toaster or microwave? If we make something with feelings (real or just artificial), do we have a responsibility to be mindful of them and consider their feelings and emotions?
There’s also something deeper to take away from “Blade Runner 2049” about how we treat our creations and the resources or people bestowed upon us. Maybe even some commentary about how we view ourselves and what we deserve as a person. A life lesson about the value of spending time with the ones you love and what you would do to keep them safe can be found, too.
Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s musical score for “Blade Runner 2049” is what I would call a direct extension of what Vangelis did for the first film. There’s really nothing more to say about it. Every note fit the movie and the sequence it accompanied, but it stopped right there. Although the two composers delivered what they needed to, it would have been interesting to hear what Jóhann Jóhannsson brought to the table before he left the project.
“Blade Runner 2049” is rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language. There’s a lot more unnecessary flesh seen here than in the original movie. The violence is rather graphic as well, with one scene graphically showing someone get shot in the head. Parents brought their children to the screening I was in and regretted it if they had any sense at all.
Moviegoers looking for the latest action blockbuster to switch their brain off to won’t be pleased with “Blade Runner 2049.” It’s an intensely cerebral almost three hour journey that is peppered throughout with some intense fights, chase scenes, and exploding ships and buildings. Let’s just say there are long stretches of dialogue and investigation between any gunplay, aerial pursuits, or hand-to-hand combat.
Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) directed “Blade Runner 2049” from a script by Hampton Fancher (“Blade Runner”) and Michael Green (“Logan”). The movie stars Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, and Sylvia Hoeks. The running time is 164 minutes.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.