A classic such as Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner is a film that many have said did not need a sequel. Now thirty plus years later Denis Villeneuve comes along and directs the sequel to what is regarded as one of the best science fiction films ever made. To what many thought impossible, Villeneuve pulls it off brilliantly it what is a rare instance that the sequel is on par if not better than the original film.
The plot itself is difficult to get into without spoiling most of the movie. Though this is what the basic premise of the film is. A Blade Runner named Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is sent on a case that leads him to uncover secrets about the past which eventually lead him to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Any other plot points would ruin the movie as the essential story of the film is a spoiler. The characters themselves, I can’t say much about as that would be in spoiler territory as well. However, what can be said about the characters is that they are all well-crafted and written in this film much like the story. 2049 offers something unique in that the plot of the film is left a big mystery until you watch it and just when you think you understand what is going on the story throws in another twist. The writers Hampton Fancher & Michael Green deserve a lot of credit for writing a such complex and mysterious story that does harken back to the original, but it does not feel like fan service to please the fans of Scott’s Blade Runner. Instead the story builds upon the original while keeping the same feel and tone of the original, but gives us as audience members more to think about in terms of what it means to be a human and how we treat those around us.
The actors and actresses all came to play in this film. Ryan Gosling continues to do no wrong in the lead role. Gosling has a very subdued performance here akin to his role in Drive, where you can see there is more to this character than he wants to let on. Harrison Ford the living legend, back as Rick Deckard is aged and he is grizzled a bit cynical about the world around him and his past actions and just wants to be by himself. Ford delivers a more believable character that audiences can get behind than when he first portrayed Deckard in 1982. Jared Leto is Niander Wallace who is like Tyrell from the first film. Leto’s character is more menacing and sinister than Tyrell, but Wallace still exhibits the same traits and personality that Tyrell had. Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, & Mackenzie Davis round out an impressive array of female characters in this film. All deserve praise for their characters and their performances, they each represent different aspects of the overall story and each have their moments to shine.
The visual landscape of this film is something to behold, as Roger Deakins the great cinematographer shows why he is the best at what he does. The cinematography of this film is just beautiful to look at and a wonder to behold and there is not one shot of the movie that does not look amazing. Roger Deakins should finally get his first Oscar for this movie as the way it looks is breathless. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch compose the movie and it is hard to top the iconic Vangelis score of the original, but the pair of composers do the original music justice. It is not the Vangelis score nor is it a rip from Vangelis’s great work; instead it is its own composition that does harken a bit to the original score, but feels like its own self that belongs in this sequel.
Watching Blade Runner 2049 felt like my experience viewing Mad Max: Fury Road in that I enjoyed these sequels more than I did the original. For me Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a great piece of cinema that changed the visual landscape of science fiction movies. Personally, Scott’s Blade Runner is a bit shallow in plot and story and most of its characters are narrowly focused in development and it is hard to latch on to most of the characters. 2049 builds upon the existing lore of the original and makes it its own with great new characters and expansive world building that for me surpasses one of the seminal movies of the 1980’s. Blade Runner 2049 pulls off a rare feat where its sequel is better than the original, it is one of the best of the year with such beauty to look at and so much to take away when you are done viewing it.