We recently had the brand new Jennifer Lawrence film, mother! having cinema goers right around the world scratching their heads. Now I fear those same people might have some issues with Blade Runner 2049… especially if they are late to the Blade Runner party.
Directed by one of cinema’s most exciting current directors, Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners) Blade Runner 2049 is essentially a detective story with a sci-fi twist. Our detective at hand is K (Ryan Gosling – Drive, La La Land) a modern day Blade Runner who uncovers a seemingly impossible secret when he busts Sapper Mortan (Dave Bautista – Spectre, Guardians Of The Galaxy). This secret soon has K’s boss, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright – Wonder Woman, Forrest Gump), demanding that he solve the secret in order to keep the peace.
The case soon divides K’s own emotions and has him asking more questions about replicants and humans – something that even invades his personal relationship with his virtual ‘partner’ Joi (Ana de Armas – (Knock Knock, War Dogs) and local sex worker Mariette (Mackenzie Davis – Black Mirror, The Martian). The case also has him seeking out the whereabouts of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford – Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark) who has been missing for 30 years. That soon K has involved in a deadly game with Luv (Sylvia Hoeks – The Best Offer, All The Devil’s Men) and Niander Wallace (Jared Leto – Suicide Squad, Dallas Buyers Club).
If you are planning on seeing Blade Runner 2049, then I warn you, take absolute notice of everything that is happening because it all becomes important. The film does have a really slow start – especially with the scenes between K and Joshi – but if you manage to get through that, then you are in for a real treat.
There are so many things that make this film something really special. Villeneuve has created a movie that is visually spectacular – a film that takes the best visual elements of films like The Fifth Element and The Book Of Eli and blends them together to form an amazing world. The world that he has created around Los Angeles in the future looks incredible and is only further enhanced by a grinding soundtrack that is more Trent Reznor than Hans Zimmer. That all comes together really well, but the film is let down at times by the story and screenplay created by Hampton Fancher (The Minus Man, Blade Runner) and Michael Green (Logan, Green Lantern).
As a film, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t really come into its own until K is really entrenched into the case that he has to solve. Early one-on-one conversations with other characters do nothing to endear K to the audience, and it is really a case of a time when the screenplay should have shown and not told. There are moments where the storyline picks up, however. K’s journey into San Diego and his search for Deckard make for intriguing moments while K’s relationship with Joi is again something that moves the story along – those scenes are made even better by a brilliant acting performance by Ana de Armas. The other standout about the film’s screenplay is how it keeps its audience guessing about something that I can’t mention because I don’t plot spoil.
Aside from the slow early quarter (yes, it is even slower than anything we saw in the original film), although Blade Runner 2049 is also let down by the fact that its ‘baddies’, Luv and Niander Wallace are uninteresting, walking clichés, the film’s final fight sequence is also a letdown as the film really did deserve something more creative as its finale.
The man who carries this film throughout is Gosling. It’s obvious that he has been instructed not to allow his character to show a lot of emotion, so with that in mind, Gosling does a wonderful job in allowing the audience full access to how K is feeling at all times throughout the film. He is well supported by those around him – Harrison Ford puts in some great scenes as Deckard, both physically and emotionally. Robin Wright and Lennie James (TV’s The Walking Dead, TV’s Jericho) steal all the scenes they are in and are brilliant alongside Gosling. This is also the film that sees Ana de Armas step up as well. She was amazing in the suspense-horror Knock Knock and here takes on a role that allows her to show another side to her acting ability.
If you are going into Blade Runner 2049 expecting it to be like all modern-day sci-fi films with guns blazing and battles galore, then you are going to be severely disappointed. At times, the film is a slow-grind, but once the Detective side of the story really kicks in, it does take its audience on a journey. The true highlight of this film is the amazing visuals that the creative team have managed to create, and it is for that reason that this film will be long remembered.