Blade Runner 2049: A Review by Michael Triay

     Since it made its 1982 debut, Blade Runner has revolutionized the science fiction genre moving forward. Although the film had no initial success upon its release, it has had massive cultural impact across various pop culture platforms since then and has amassed a cult following.
     The sci-fi noir movie focuses on Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an ex-cop, who is thrust back into the fold and is tasked by the LAPD with retiring a group of replicants stowing away on Earth. Replicants are known as beings virtually identical to humans, that are outlawed on Earth, and superior in strength and ability and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers that created them. Deckard returns to the Blade Runner unit which is a special force that disposes of the androids; this is not known as execution but retirement. When Deckard goes to the Tyrell Corporation, the outfit that manufactures the bioengineered species, complications start to arise as Deckard becomes attached to Rachel, an employee who comes to the conclusion that she’s a replicant.
     Like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 takes place in a futuristic dystopian Los Angeles. This new iteration centers on a new Blade Runner, K (Ryan Gosling). While on assignment, K discovers a devastating truth that will ignite a war between humans and replicants leaving what’s left of society in shambles. His investigation will eventually lead him to Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for over 30 years. With the help of the jaded recluse and his lover, Joi, (Ana De Armas) the question becomes: what lengths is K willing to go to in order to maintain balance?
     Visually, Blade Runner 2049 is an absolute powerhouse. It seamlessly blends practical effects and CGI (computer-generated imagery). This perfect amalgamation along with vivid colors and detailed set design make it a pleasure to behold. Whether it’s vibrant neon nightlife or hazy misty vistas striking the screen, each frame is dripping with immense beauty. Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins continues to show that he’s a master of his craft by providing a various range of shots at different junctures. Whether he’s displaying desolate panoramic landscapes or busy bustling streets, it’s clear that versatility is his middle name. Composers Hans Zimmer, Johann Johannsson and Benjamin Wallfisch pay homage to Blade Runner composer Vangelis by using synthesizers to create the majority of the music, but also reinvigorate it for a modern day audiences.
     In terms of pacing and story, it’s a downtempo film. The franchise has always been more intellectually engaging than anything else. The original film asks the question what does it mean to be human and leaves the answer up to the audience. Unfortunately, the existential theme takes a backseat to focus more on characters and the drama that surrounds them. Action sequences are scarce but effective as they exhilaratingly propel the story forward and keep it from getting dull. There are also plenty of surprising plot twists that don’t fall into familiar tropes. Gosling does a great job of portraying the reserved but audacious character, K. He pairs very well with Ford’s witty assertive Deckard. Ana De Armas also provides some good genuine endearment throughout. Jared Leto plays Niander Wallace, CEO of Wallace Corporation, creator of the new model of replicants. He has a very miniscule role and while he doesn’t add much to the narrative, his threatening presence and cruelty makes it enjoyable enough. Sylvia Hoeks, however, who plays his right hand man is great as Luv. She’s ruthless and daring, which makes it that much more suspenseful as the film progresses.
     Overall, Blade Runner 2049 is an excellent sequel to the original cult classic. It boasts incredible captivating visual effects and amazing music. While it does step away from the philosophical themes that were largely a part of the first film, it provides a gripping detective story in its place. It is, however, a very steadily paced film that won’t appeal to everyone. Any passionate fans of the franchise or film in general will certainly enjoy it, but if you’re searching for a fast-paced action extravaganza, look elsewhere.

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