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Blade Runner 2049

In the 35 years that have passed since the release of the original BLADE RUNNER, the cutting edge film has emerged as a beloved cult favorite. The lore surrounding the production is almost as fascinating as the movie itself, with everyone from director Ridley Scott to star Harrison Ford divided over the true nature of the protagonist, Rick Deckard (Ford). Set in 2019, where artificial intelligence beings known as Replicants are hunted by law enforcement agents known as Blade Runner’s, it was a dark and deep exploration of the nature of man vs. machine.

There had been talk for decades about a continuation of the BLADE RUNNER saga, but it wasn’t until this summer that the project finally hit the big screen. After delivering one of the best films of 2016 (ARRIVAL), director Denis Villeneuve took on the arduous task of reintroducing the BLADE RUNNER universe to the world. In an era when of sequels, prequels, and reboots are released on a weekly basis, there is always a concern that the resurrection of a beloved entity could be spectacular failure. There is, however, also the possibility for greatness.

The lore surrounding the production is as fascinating as the movie itself, with everyone divided over the nature of the protagonist, Rick Deckard (Ford).

BLADE RUNNER: 2049 is, quite simply, one of the best of 2017. It is the ultra-rare sequel that not only entertains, but builds upon its predecessor in a way that enhances the original. Set 30 years after the disastrous events in BLADE RUNNER, it is a world where Replicants are now produced by the Wallace Corporation. Incapable of exercising free will, the creations are now forced to obey whoever their master may be. One such Replicant is “K” (Gosling), a Blade Runner that hunts, apprehends, and often destroys previous generations of machines. Living a solitary life where he is looked down upon and judged by the majority of the population due to his origins, he lives in a small apartment with a holographic program named Joi (Ana de Armas.)   

After killing a rogue Replicant (Dave Bautista) on an isolated farm, K, with a help of a drone, finds a mysterious box that has buried underneath a tree of the property. After the container is unearthed and opened, skeletal remains of a woman are found. Delving deeper into the mystery, K and his superior, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) conclude that the deceased was a Replicant, and that she had given birth. There had never been a Replicant capable of conceiving a child, so K is assigned with the arduous task of uncovering the secrets that shrouded this life-altering mystery.

In Gosling’s hands, the character is far more complex than anything we’ve seen in the franchise before, and despite the fact that we already know he is a Replicant, the emotional journey K travels on is believable and fiercely impactful.

Before basking in the dazzling wonderment of BLADE RUNNER: 2049, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with events of the original film. It is essential to at least have a basic grasp of the tone, storylines, and lore of Scott’s 1982 production in order to enjoy Villeneuve’s vision. As a companion piece, it shatters even the loftiest expectations that have been placed upon it.

The dark, damp, and dreary environment that helped craft the distinct visual presentation of the original is ever-present in this world as well. It is a technological era that isn’t such a stretch from where we are today, and certainly isn’t that far-fetched. The rain pours down, and citizens shovel with their heads down while cars whiz overhead and advertisements blaze with larger-than-life precision on every available surface. Despite the often bleak surroundings, the production design of 2049 is beautiful. Villenueve’s scope and vision is startlingly ambitious, yet seems to pull it off with relative ease. From the dusty, radioactive rubble of Las Vegas to the lavish halls of the Wallace Corporation, each frame is wonder to behold.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of BLADE RUNNER: 2049, is the progression of the franchise in terms of storyline development. BLADE RUNNER delved into the nature of mankind and their place in the evolving world, and 2049 explores that concept in much more complex and thought-provoking ways. As K delves deeper into the mystery of the skeletal remains found within the confines of the box, his humanity begins to seep through. Despite the fact that he was created for a specific purpose, he develops a level of consciousness that forces him to question his very existence. In Gosling’s hands, the character is far more complex than anything we’ve seen in the franchise before, and despite the fact that we already know he is a Replicant (as opposed to the ambiguous origins of Harrison Ford’s character in ’82) the emotional journey K travels on is believable and fiercely impactful. By the time crosses paths with Deckard (Ford), he has more questions than answers. 

In the past, films such BLADE RUNNER: 2049 failed to garner the attention of the Academy when it came time for award season, but with the astounding success of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, many of these barriers were broken down. I think you’ll see 2049 nominated for a number of Oscars when the time comes, and the accolades bestowed upon this staggering technical achievement will be richly deserved.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to
attend this month’s film.

BLADE RUNNER 2049

RATED: R

RUN TIME: 2h 44min

GENRE: Mystery, Sci-Fi , Thriller

STARRING: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas

DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green

GRADE: A

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.