Once in a while humanity is hard to define because sometimes we act like we’re not a part of it. Blade Runner 2049 takes us back to the grim, dark world that’s filled with replicants and advanced artificial intelligence. The very capable Denis Villeneuve, who gave us Arrival and Sicario, directs a fine sequel that surpasses the original. Ryan Gosling leads the talented cast as a young blade runner, and is joined by Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, and returning to his role as Rick Deckard, none other than Harrison Ford.
Denis Villeneuve gets the atmosphere down, and expands on Blade Runner. The world he shows us is plugged in and gloomy, where danger lurks around every dark corner. Villeneuve allows the film to appeal to our intellect, inviting us to question what makes us human, and even what make us feel alive in a world that feels so dead. It also explores how memory defines our identity. It’s a lot to take in, but it does promote insightful discussion. The film moves at a slow pace, as most noir films do, but it allows us to absorb the themes and appreciate the alluring cinematography. However, it could have worked better if about 20 minutes were shaved off.
Roger Deakins captures the bleak, but beautiful world of Blade Runner. There is not a single shot in this film that feels out of place, and if you can screen capture a random shot, it will more than likely deserve a framed spot on the wall. Deakins helps Villeneuve capture the cold, wet, atrocious feeling of this future world, and he nails it beautifully. The film is elevated even further by Hans Zimmer’s intense score.
Blade Runner 2049 also presents us with some brutal action scenes. We get to see the replicants in deadly hand-to-hand combat, and quickdraw shootouts. They have superhuman strength, but it always feels grounded enough that we feel the blows and taste the blood.
Ryan Gosling plays Agent K, a young blade runner that’s rather isolated. All he knows is his job, and he’s rather efficient at doing it. At first, he seems cold and a bit emotionless, but as the story unfolds, we see that he’s just like us, yearning to feel alive in a world that shackles him down to keep him in line with everyone else. As he walks down the grimy streets of California, painted in neon lights, he wishes to be somebody.
Returning as Deckard, Harrison Ford puts forth an exceptional performance. We genuinely feel for his character, especially if you’re a fan of the original, even if he only has a short amount of screen-time. Although, the scene-stealer of the film is Sylvia Hoeks, who plays Luv. She is unpredictable, and vicious as Luv and you can’t take your eyes off of her. Jared Leto playing Niander Wallace also does well as the genius creator. There are no weak links.
Blade Runner 2049 is pretty much an arthouse film that has blockbuster money backing it, and I’m glad that it does. Like Godfather Part 2 and Terminator 2, it lives up to or surpasses the original. The film allows us to contemplate the very nature of our humanity and the importance of feeling alive, distinguishing it from merely being alive.