Blade Runner 2049 | Dennis Villeneuve | October 6, 2017
Science fiction is a genre which allows us to understand simple questions in life. Pulling away from reality and looking through a lens of another world can help us clearly see the mundanities in life. Normally, daily motions and actions distort these questions. Life – the meaning of it as whole and the meaning of it as an individual. Blade Runner 2049 is a film that presents an existential crisis on layers of existence, human and synthetic. I am still having difficulty digesting the grand and epic nature of the film.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place thirty years after the original Blade Runner. Replicants have a new creator, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who has found a way to improve Replicants and make them obey. Replicants are integrated into society and Agent K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner and a Replicant. Yes, Replicants “retire” old Replicants. K is sent to retire an old rogue (Dave Bautista) and in the process finds a body buried next to a tree. K slowly unravels the origin of this mystery. In the process, he finds own purpose and meaning for himself and his kind.
Denis Villeneuve has never been the type of director who operates with fast cuts, zoom-ins, and kinetic energy. He is in fact, the antithesis of Tony Scott, Ridley Scott’s younger brother. Even Ridley is, to a fault, with some of his films; they tend to lose focus and he relies on action to cover it up. Blade Runner 2049 is about as tight and dense as a movie could be. Running over two and a half hours long, Villeneuve shoots every moment with a watchmaker’s precision. Paired with the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, not a single scene is wasted, and you are left without breath, telling yourself that the future is vivid, dirty, colorful, and yet a grim place. I believe that this will be the year that Deakins finally wins that elusive Academy Award that has dogged him for over two decades.
Unraveling more of the story might create a Freudian slip in this review. I am trying to keep this a spoiler-friendly one while desperately keeping it comprehensive. Ultimately, both Blade Runners (K and Deckard (Harrison Ford)) cross paths and it is a tandem that I wish would never end. Ford was an aged wine who stayed away from Hollywood for some time. When he finally uncorked himself, he poured out a range that we rarely saw before. His performance as the older Rick Deckard completely usurps his performance from over 30 years ago. The iconic smirk is still present, as is the strong physical stature. But the eyes – oh, the eyes – have so much more hurt in them than ever before. The older Deckard is the same as the younger – he just wants to be left alone, but the feeling has intensified over time.
Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as Agent K. The majority of the film is spent on Gosling’s face and movement. You know that he is a Replicant but he carries himself with a humanity that the other Replicants fail to do. He is curious, which is the unraveling of this sequel. He even channels a young Harrison Ford with that ironic twinge he carries in many of his older films. It seems as Gosling gets older, his range becomes limitless.
There are many factors to take note of with Blade Runner 2049 that I believe make it a movie that should be watched again. I don’t consider this film to be one of repeat value, but I stand firm that it is one in which you will continue to unravel, question, and debate amongst your peers. It is one of visual perfection and a real provocateur of the mind.