In 2049 the Tyrell Corporation is no longer in business, it has been bought out by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who is manufacturing a more advanced replicant, the NEXUS-9. The older NEXUS models are still being hunted down and “retired” by a new generation of Blade Runners. One of these Blade Runners, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), finds himself unraveling a secret that can shatter the world as he knows it. It is up to K to discover the origin of this secret and along his investigation there is only one man who can help him find it, former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). K finds himself searching for Deckard who may be the only person who has the answers to his questions.
The highly anticipated sequel to the cult classic, sci-fi master piece, Blade Runner, Denis Villeneuve brings to a new generation possibly an even greater film with Blade Runner 2049. Very much like Ridley Scott with his original film, Villeneuve was able to create a visually stunning world that the audience is sucked into. By having legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins on board for the film, the world of Blade Runner 2049 was brought to life. With the film taking place thirty years after the events of the original, Deakins does an amazing job at showing how the world has been affected by climate change. From a much dirtier and smog infested Los Angles to the wasteland that is Las Vegas. The films use of color is what truly makes it beaufitful to watch, integrating rich contrast and sleek colors, watching the characters walk through this world is truly jaw dropping and makes the audience forget this is a fictional world. The use of actual sets instead of a green screen is what really adds to the illusion of this world, with actors being surrounded with physical sets it adds realism to the world.
Narrative wise, Blade Runner 2049 is still very much a sci-fi/noir film. With the film’s runtime being 2hr 45min, Vellenueve takes his time telling this story. A much slower burn compared to Blade Runner, and at times it is very unnecessary, with many scenes being dialogue free for long stretches at a time to focus more on the film’s aesthetics. And although it is visually stunning and breath taking, too much of it at times begins take away the story the film is trying to tell.
While being a sequel, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t rely heavily on its predecessor to have its own story. It adds onto themes that are in the first film while simultaneously creating narratives and plot points that can eventually pave the way for future iterations to the Blade Runner franchise. Gosling gives a stellar performance as Agent K, giving a twist to what it is like to be a Blade Runner. As for Harrison Ford, his portrayal as a former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, continues right where he left off thirty five years ago. And much like Ford has aged, so has Deckard, adding depth to the character. The other supporting performances of Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, and Sylia Hoeks were especially strong also, specifically Armas, with her character’s take on “what it is to be human”.
As for the character of Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto, at times it felt too “cartoonish”. Even though the world of Blade Runner 2049 is a strange yet somewhat realistic take on what Earth can become, his presence on screen was too over the top and unbelievable at times. Had Leto dialed back a bit on his performance it would have fit better into the film’s story telling.
With Oscar season right around the corner, Blade Runner 2049 has established itself as one of the best films of the year. This film has undoubtedly garnered an Oscar nomination with its breath taking visuals and story telling. Roger Deakins may have won himself his first Oscar with this film and Denis Villeneuve has created a master piece much like Ridley Scott did with Blade Runner. It is not everyday that a film’s sequel holds up being equally as good or even better than its original and Blade Runner 2049 does just that.
Final Grade: A