Review: Blade Runner 2049

Thirty-five years after the original Blade Runner comes a sequel. Wow! It is a continuation of the original story 30 years on, and it is amazingly faithful to the world of the former while incredibly innovative. I LOVED the first one, and the only thing I miss this time around is Rutger Hauer. But fortunately in the new one, the replicant longing to be human is played by the talented Mr. Ryan Gosling. And it is his story that takes center stage. This is a hard one to review because the story has several twists that you don’t want to know going in. Or I wouldn’t, so here’s the gist: LAPD Officer K (Gosling) is out doing his Blade Runner job, hunting down and eliminating old replicants, when he stumbles upon an impossible secret that could change the world. And to get to the truth he has to track down former Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford), which puts them both in the cross-hairs of some extremely powerful people.

The film takes place in the very dystopian future LA, where smog is so thick you can’t see a block. A massive blackout a while back erased all the digital information and plunged the earth into a famine and chaos. They’re still recovering, but the rich are off-world and megalomaniac industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) has introduced a new breed of replicants who can’t think for themselves, and those older more sentient ones are a threat. But the secret that K uncovers jeopardizes Wallace’s entire organization, so he dispatches his assassin assistant to take care of the problem.

In our present rush to perfect A.I., the film constantly forces you consider the differences and commonalities between human and machine, be it memory or love or compassion. And the story considers our future through a frighteningly corporatist lens. It’s a very smart script. And I can’t say a whole lot more without spoilers. But it is, beyond the story, an incredible production. I’m anticipating a whole lot of Oscar nods. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, for sure. I never understand the who and why with the Sound Design and Sound Editing, but I’m thinking this one will take both home, as well as a slew of other technical achievement awards.  Ryan Gosling is perfect in his role, though Harrison Ford steals his scenes. And there are two women in the film who cannot be ignored, one the replicant hit-woman (Sylvia Hoeks) and the other K’s virtual girlfriend (Ana de Armas).  I’m pretty sure that director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Arrival) won’t be overlooked either. It is simply an outstanding movie. I highly recommend it to lovers of the original, as well as dystopian future aficionados.

Warning: Skip the super-sized drinks. It is long (163 min), though it certainly didn’t feel that way.

Bonus watching: In August, Director Denis Villeneuve revealed that three short films would document events that had transpired between the first Blade Runner and the new one. Here they are.

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