Note: This is a spoiler-free Blade Runner 2049 review
Writer and actor Hampton Fancher has a specific passion. He has only seven writing credits in thirty-five years, and three of those are shorts. Of the remaining four, half are now the Blade Runner franchise. Fanchers affinity for the futuristic mystery is clear, and his fans have been waiting for his follow-up.
Blade Runner 2049 is a lot to take in, but if you’re a fan of the original it’s also exactly what you could hope for 35 years later.
The first thing you’ll notice right as Blade Runner 2049 opens is the size of the film. The scenes are big. The cinematography is big. The sound mixing is big. Even the message is big. The movie is a truly immersive experience.
The grand scale rewards you for seeing the film in theaters, which is probably the best reason to go see it.
In a way, the scenery and sets take over and become their own characters.
Blade Runner 2049 takes CGI to the next level, with scenes and locations that let the imagination run wild. The latest rendition takes place 30 years in the future and takes a shot at what the world may look like in 2049. Some of it may be correct, some of it may not be, but either way the painted picture is clear and creates a kind of thinkpiece within the film.
The second thing you’ll notice about Blade Runner 2049 is it’s long. Very long. Like 2 hours, 43 minutes long. The film almost finds itself in a “greatest stength being it’s greatest weakness” scenario here. The scenes and cinematography are beautiful, but some of the scenes are also drawn out in a way they don’t need to be. I think the latter hurts the film more than the former helps it at points.
During the screening I attended, audible yawns could be heard. Also, some of the lighthearted moments and attempts at humor are lost simply because the audience isn’t engaged. In 2017 our social media society needs attention-grabbing content all the time. Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t provide that. This is probably more of a statement about our society than the film. Either way, the construct doesn’t always work for this movie.
Also, Fancher’s writing really should be recognized. He’s meticulous, he’s in-depth, and he paints a picture in an impressive way. It’s obvious Francher cares deeply about the entire Blade Runner franchise. He cares about his work, but also the fans of the original Blade Runner that wanted to see more.
The film has deeper meaning and develops a big message, just like the first. Blade Runner 2049 does the original justice, and then some.
In other words I think the critic Rotten Tomatoes score of the film will be sky high, but the audience score might not fare as well.
Gosling and Leto Stand Out
Ryan Gosling is the focal point of Blade Runner 2049 as K, and really the main actor worth discussing. K experiences constant inner-turmoil throughout the film, figuratively and literally blurring the lines between what’s real and what isn’t. Many things have changed between 2019 and 2049. The tumultuous life of a blade runner is not one.
It’s difficult to be in almost every scene for 163 minutes, but Gosling gives it his best shot. The Oscar-nominated actor displays the perfect demeanor for the character he’s portraying. His subtle developments as the film progresses allows you to connect with the character and see the film through his eyes.
Also worth mentioning is the performance on Jared Leto as Niander Wallace. Blade Runner in all its glory is beloved because it’s a little “out there”. Wallace is the twisted, terse, and cold-hearted antagonist with an obsessive agenda. In a certain way, he is also the personification of big business in today’s world. Leto brings the character to life in a role that is right up his alley.
Should I Go See Blade Runner 2049?
If you’re a fan of the classic Blade Runner, there is absolutely no reason NOT to see this film. And fast. If you’ve never seen the original, however, you may want to wait until you can clear your day. Or just bring a lot of snacks.
Image courtesy of BladeRunnerMovie.com