I read that Blade Runner 2049 wasn’t doing so hot on it’s opening weekend, that the numbers were far lower than expected. At the same time, I heard from early views that the film lived beyond expectations in terms of depth and quality. And then I heard that it was nearly 3 hours long and knew why the mixed reviews. The hardcore fans of the original (when it was a cult classic) were the people showing up in theaters, but it was too much for the casual movie-goer who maybe caught the first film on cable once.
And then I saw it for myself and being a huge fan of the original I was totally blown away. The story will twist your mind as the original did but in its own way, not in a “guess-who-the-replicant-is” way. The script is well imagined, complex and smart. The concepts are just as deep and most of the characters are quite rich. The conclusion is just as satisfying as the intricate journey that leads you there.
The sets are part of what makes this film so breath-taking. Each scene is unique and has a distinct, often captivating, always interesting canvas. The color palette is also rich and sparse where effective ranging from futuristic cities to abandoned deserts. The technology links to the past with a sense of continuity in the story’s universe while obviously benefiting from 30 years of technical advancement.
Talent-wise, just about the entire cast is compelling to watch. Ryan Gosling as the new generation of Blade Runner balances subtlety with intensity to great effect while Harrison Ford pulls out an older, more paranoid Decker from shades of the past in a seamless update to his character’s timeline. The one weak link in the chain was Jared Leto whose portrayal of the antagonist Niander Wallace contributed a vanilla performance that leaned on the gimic of blindness. His character’s relevance was diminished by a mediocre delivery on Leto’s behalf. The rest of the cast is tight and is rounded out by Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, and Edward James Olmos.
If you loved the original as a real fan (not as as some sci-fi hipster wannabe), you need to see this on the biggest screen possible while you can.
reviewed by Sean McKnight