Movies – Blade Runner 2049

8 Oct

Blade Runner 2049 is the long-awaited sequel to the 1982 science fiction classic. The new movie takes place 30 years after the original and stars Ryan Gosling as “K”, a new-model replicant (a.k.a. android) Blade Runner — a police officer tasked with hunting down and “retiring” older model replicants. The movie also features Robin Wright as K’s boss, Jared Leto as industrialist Niander Wallace, Sylvia Hoeks as Wallace’s right-hand woman, Luv, and Ana de Armas as K’s girlfriend. The main cast is rounded out by Dave Bautista as a replicant who puts the main action of the movie in motion, and Edward James Olmos and, of course, Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, returning from the original movie.

I haven’t seen Blade Runner for years, but I remember it as an action sci-fi movie with some “what does it mean to be human” philosophy mixed in. This one…isn’t. It’s a visually beautiful, slow, talky movie with a few action scenes tossed in.

Ryan Gosling is good as a downtrodden cop trying to do his duty while battling his own personal questions. Screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green almost immediately take away one major (unresolved) subplot of the original movie, Deckard’s “is he human or replicant?” by immediately identifying K as a replicant, but that adds a new level of explicit questioning in terms of K hunting his own. De Armas as Joi, the one bright spot in K’s life, is beautiful and effective, and Wright bookends the summer with another strong woman warrior role (following her turn in Wonder Woman). Harrison Ford is…well, Harrison Ford, and dominates the relatively small portion of the movie he’s in. Jared Leto delivers a strange, Jared Leto-ish performance.

The visuals are stunning, both digital and practical effects. The neon-and-video-lit streets of Los Angeles from the original movie reappear in fleeting glimpses, though the city is mainly glimpsed from on high, from the rain-slicked windscreens of flying cars.

I really want to like this movie based on the visuals and a number of nice touches, including some callbacks to the original, but it feels much more like a Denis Villeneuve movie that shares some DNA with Blade Runner than a straightforward sequel, even though it hits a lot of the plot points you’d look for in a sequel. In the end, I think the movie succeeds in creating a vast visual pallet and a couple of interesting characters, but falls short due to a too-dense plot and muddled motivations.

I give Blade Runner 2049 6 Cheeseburgers.

 

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