If you would like to read my earlier review of the original Blade Runner, click here. In terms of this review, I will try to avoid spoilers.
Synopsis: Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, 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, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. (Warner Bros)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Anna de Armas
Writers: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 163mins
For showtimes and more, check out Blade Runner 2049 on movietimes.com.
This film definitely has a lot to live to (check out my review of the original above to see why) with the original Blade Runner widely considered as one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. Not only did this new film have that going against it but it is also 35 years later. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this film was able to overcome both of these which is something that doesn’t happen often when it comes to sequels.
Going back to the original Blade Runner, one of the best things about it were its production values that were ahead of its time back in 1982. These excellent production values returned for this new film, creating a more modernized version of the futuristic Los Angeles created in the original. Because of today’s technological advances, this is one of the most beautiful films in a long time with visuals that should be recognized come awards season and were even better with IMAX. The film did a great job at establishing the world which made it easier to get into the story.
Rick Deckard was not the main character this time around but rather a new character named K (Gosling), another Blade Runner who stumbled onto a secret with the potential to alter humanity as we know it. The original film was great in how it asks deep questions about one’s own humanity and what it means to be human and that was still the case here as K had to deal with the same questions over the course of his investigation. K was compelling to watch throughout as he navigated across the landscape, encountering a diverse cast of characters along the way.
One of these characters was of course Deckard (Ford). He figured into K’s investigation and was swept up in the danger that came with it. K was not the only interested party involved as the evil Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and his killer Replicant assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) hounded them throughout. While K’s investigation and all the drama and emotion behind it was engaging, it would have been nice to see this other side developed a little more (I did not watch the short films which could have helped with this).
The film’s many action sequences were well-done and exciting to watch, however, this was not the focus since this was a character driven film more than it was an action film. The original was arguably slow-paced and this was no different here although it is more noticeable here with the film clocking in at just under 3 hours. Some may find the film too long and some scenes could have been left on the cutting room floor but this is just a minor complaint.
The acting was also great across the board with Gosling and Ford being the obvious standouts. While it could have been easy to do a Harrison Ford impression, Gosling, as the lead, did his own thing and fits right into this world. Gosling showed amazing range and nuance in his performance and was fun to watch. Ford jumped right back into one of his greatest roles seamlessly, proving that he can still do it. He brought some much needed energy to the proceedings. He and Gosling had some good chemistry as well. De Armas as K’s love interest Joi was good and wasn’t just a love interest.
Overall, this was a modern adaptation of a sci-fi classic that not only builds on what made it earn that distinction but also exceeds it with even better production values, a deep, compelling story, and great performances.