Having grown up in the 80’s and 90’s I was exposed to many amazing films. Films that set the stage for the cinema we now know. Groundbreaking themes, visuals, sound and more. The original film, Blade Runner, was one of these films and when a sequel was (finally) officially announced, I was both delighted and skeptical of this new film. Having seen it today, I am pleased to announce that I feel it was the perfect sequel, flaws and all. (As I write this review I am playing the original and man is this sequel spot on in every way.)
I still have fond memories of the original film but, in recent years, I have come to the realization that it is not for everyone. My own wife has not made it through any of the five versions without falling asleep halfway through. Then again, although in the same generation as I am, she wasn’t exposed to these films at an early age and therefore she doesn’t possess the nostalgia factor that many others, like myself, do. This is no fault of her own and I don’t begrudge her of it, but it just shows that films like Blade Runner, although considered classics, are indeed not for everyone.
Be warned, there are potential spoilers in this article. I will be careful not to ruin the ultimate reveal but if you care about minor spoilers, you may want to see it for yourself before proceeding.
Blade Runner 2049 is, at it’s core and much like the original, a detective noir film. It follows the Sam Spadesque ‘Agent K’ (played by Ryan Gosling) as he is lead down blind alleys, following a trail that, ultimately, leads him to find himself. It is a film about discovering who you are and what it means to be human.
We learn early on that this new character is a replicant himself and that, in this new future, replicants are still used but in a more controlled manner. They are still slaves and, due to a certain event in between films, they are now being developed to be more, obedient?
The Tyrell Corporation, makers of the original skin jobs, is no more having been bought and replaced by Wallace Corps, the head of the company being lead by Niander Wallace played by Jared Leto. (Leto is one of the sticky points for me but I will discuss this later.) Wallace wants to make the replicants literally ‘ More Human than Human’ and nothing will stop him from doing this. Seeing that he practically controls everything, I really don’t see how he could fail at it. He is not the refined scientist/industrialist that Tyrell was, instead, in very Leto fashion, he is a creepy recluse that seems more akin to a cult leader than scientific genius.
K’s opening mission leads him to find the skeletal remains of a woman who shows evidence of having had a child. The problem with this is that replicants should not be able to have children. K’s boss, Lt. Joshi played by Robin Wright, orders him to find and ‘deal with’ this child in any fashion necessary because if word gets out, this could spell the end of the divide between Human and Replicant. He reluctantly takes on the job and soon finds that there is far more to the story of this child than he could have ever believed. This leads to a long journey of discovery for Agent K, both the physical and meta kind.
This is the truest sequel that I have ever seen made for any classic film. The tone, the visuals and even the music is spot on. It is a slow paced, lengthy story that allows for ‘character moments’ at every opportunity. Much like it’s predecessor, the world being built is a bleak one. It is one where the human race has all but extinguished itself through overpopulation and pollution. This is a world where people no longer know what trees look like, no longer recognize nature. There is even a bit that refers to the San Diego Sector as part of the Los Angeles Landfill.
Unfortunately, for its perfection as a sequel, that is also one of it’s downfalls. The original film is really an acquired taste. It is a long, plotting detective story that can be a little lengthy and full for some cinema goers. It contains no ‘fluff’ but has a lot of character development and, many times, that development gets in its own way. This sequel is no different, it likes to linger and, while the views are gorgeous the lingering can be turn off for many. Director Denis Villeneuve did an amazing job recreating this world but it’s a long film that, in today’s world of quick fixes, seems like a relic out of place.
Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch do an amazing job at scoring this film. The Music is heavily steeped in the 80’s reliance on synth. Not that it is a bad thing, not at all, as it really helps tie the tone of the film with the original. There are some moments that seem a little heavy handed and again, for the uninitiated, this can be overbearing at times.
Everyone in this film did a terrific job in their rolls. I was more than impressed by most of the cast and, for the most part, was fully immersed in the film. I say ‘for the most part’ as there is one actor that I cant seem to see past their real self anymore, that person is Wallace himself, Jared Leto.
Listen, I get why people cast this guy, he plays creepy very well. However, for someone who is known for his method acting, every time I see him I am instantly pulled out of the film. All I see now is Jared Leto being…well..creepy. I really wish that this had not been the case but he was, in my opinion, the weak link of this film.
One standout for sure was Sylvia Hoeks who plays the replicant ‘Luv’. Luv is Wallace’s right hand replicant and enforcer. She is both menacing and sexy all at once and man does she play it well. Her relentless pursuit of Gosling and ‘the child’ are reminiscent of Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of Roy Batty from the first film. I would not have been surprised to have learned that some of her character’s memories had been modeled off of Roy’s.
Another standout was Dave Bautista as Sapper Morton. He really gave you a sense of why the replicants were willing to sacrifice to find their freedom. I always look forward to seeing Bautista in films and, although a short scene, his was not a disappointment.
But what about Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling?! They were great. Gosling was perfect as the latest incarnation of a Blade Runner Agent and the twist of him being a Replicant retiring other Replicants was clever indeed. Ford was, of course, great as always. I won’t get too much into his return portrayal of Deckard as it will likely result in spoilers, but he was as solid as you would expect.
There are also a couple of really cool cameos and easter eggs for the eagle eyed viewers, but I won’t spoil those here either.
So, after all of this,did you like it? Should I go see it? Also, which version of the original should I watch first?
Did I like it? Yes I did. It’s not one I would way was a favorite film but I do not regret going to the theater to see it. It is indeed a theatrical film and, if you loved the original, you really should see this in the cinema. My wife, bless her, went with me to see this one and, unlike the original, she didn’t fall asleep. So, that’s certainly saying something.
As for the original film, I suggest the Final Cut. It is considered the definitive version and will really set things up for you. It isn’t necessary but you’ll likely enjoy the new one more if you saw it first. If you don’t like the original, then you may as well skip this new one.
One tip though, watch the three short films that were made as ‘prequels’ before going. They set things up well. I have included them below so you won’t have to hunt them down.
And of course, the trailer:
In a Nutshell:
See this film if you are a fan of the original or are interested in detective films or ‘hard’ science fiction films. This is not a film for the casual movie goer and will likely cause you to fall asleep before it is over. If you are more akin to sci fi films like Guardians of the Galaxy or even the Transformers variety of Action/Sci Fi, this one is not for you. If you like well plotted and thought out stories that take place in futuristic settings with great actors and amazing visuals, then go get a ticket RIGHT NOW!
Thank you for reading this review. If you liked what you read I have read I have a series of reviews that cover classic 80’s and 90’s films from my youth called Key Movies In My Life. Please check these out! Here are just a couple: The BeastMaster (http://wp.me/p93it6-oQ) and The Last Starfighter (http://wp.me/p93it6-n8), as always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these movies as well. If you just happend by, please tell me what you think!
Late To The Game 10/8/17