“Blade Runner: 2049” Asks What it Means to be Human.
It’s been 35 years since Ridley Scott’s ambitious sci-fi noir Blade Runner hit theaters to a less than desirable reception from both audiences and critics alike. Over the years (and around 4 different cuts of the film), the once box-office flop turned into a cinematic masterpiece as audiences began to “understand” it more. Scott himself declares “The Final Cut” as the definitive version of the story he wanted to tell, and is, in fact, the “best” version of the film in my humble opinion. It’s one of those films that gets better on repeat viewings, and I find myself revisiting it every few years or so.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the events of its predecessor. We follow a new blade runner named “K” (Ryan Gosling), who is hunting down older model replicants due to their unpredictability. Replicants in present-day 2049, are made to follow orders and do whatever they are asked of by their owners, thus having their free will taken away. That’s honestly all I can tell you story-wise, as the press was specifically asked not to mention anything in our reviews about major plot twists. These “twists” begin to unravel within the first 2-minutes of Blade Runner 2049, so this is going to be a tough one to review.
Let’s get this out of the way, Blade Runner 2049 is NOT the action, explosion-heavy blockbuster it’s being marketed as. Is there action set pieces in the film? Yes, but they are far and few between to say the least. The opening action scene, in particular, was a standout for me, with remarkable sound design, having an authentic grit feeling to it. Every punch feels real, with little to no action choreography, grounding this futuristic drama in some semblance of reality.
This goes without saying, but I can’t praise enough about the legendary Roger Deakins breathtaking cinematography, gorgeously consuming every frame of the almost 3-hour runtime. The implementation of practical effects and CGI are seamless, transporting you into this nuclear winter-esque world that is directly comparable to the original classic. Deakins deserves AT LEAST an Oscar nom, if not win, for his remarkable work in Blade Runner 2049.
Gosling is expectedly subdued as the mysterious “K.” He’s a monotone, mostly one note Blade Runner while having a lot of internal struggle that Gosling showcases through the most nuanced mannerisms.