I have seen a few movies in my lifetime, but seldom had I been as moved as I was with this cinematic masterpiece. Blade Runner 2049 is a cinephile’s dream come true. I just returned from my second viewing and although it did not have the Wow! of the initial, unspoiled viewing, the second viewing of Villeneuve’s craft lost none of its excitement. No screen can be big enough to do justice to this intoxicating spectacle of wonderment, love and despair. Never since The Godfather has the bar been set so high for a sequel. Not only did Blade Runner 2049 more than honor the sequel, it was a movie that stands solidly on its own as one of the great movies of all time.
So many people, myself included, were not thrilled when we learned of this sequel. This was the Sisyphus of all movie sequels. It had been 35 years. The original Blade Runner was made in 1982 and was a box-office flop. Subsequent cuts of Blade Runner and time turned it into a masterpiece, a template for all subsequent sci-fi movies. Even with this, Blade Runner remained an enigma, a mystery, an untouchable. The impossible gauntlet was thrown down, but Denis Villeneuve and crew picked it up and gave us a movie miracle.
From the opening overhead scene, to the subsequent riveting scene with Ryan Gosling and Dave Bautista in the farmhouse, the viewer knows that he is in for something very special. Blade Runner 2049 might be the most gorgeous movie ever, as there were tears, there was rain, there were holographs and street scenes that enticed and haunted you. Most of all, there were eye-ball sizzling panoramic shots of an unforgettable environmentally ravaged landscape, a landscape of intrigue and horror.
*SOME SPOILERS BELOW*
- Denis Villeneuve First, lets cover the very obvious. Denis Villeneuve, when asked why he took on this ambitious project, stated flatly “Because I didn’t want anyone else to fuck it up”. Villeneuve captured the spirit of the original 1982 version while delivering a philosophically dazzling masterpiece that totally stood on its own. He did not follow the standard Hollywood trope of developing K as the chosen one, and made a relatively slow-paced, deeply cerebral movie, a gutsy move in light of today’s movie viewing expectations.
- Roger Deakins The cinematography in Blade Runner 2049 is perfection. There is no other way to describe what has to be the most gorgeous movie ever made. The Sin City scenes and sets, when we finally get to become reacquainted with Richard Deckard, will totally blow your mind. If you think O Brother, Where Art Thou? put on the earth tones, wait till you get a load of this movie. Deakins shows a post-blackout dystopian Los Angeles that is horrifyingly beautiful and fascinating. Anything less than a unanimous Academy vote for an Oscar will be a travesty.
- Acting and Chemistry If there was any doubt about Harrison Ford not being washed up or totally at the top of his career, just watch this movie. He was the Alpha Daddy both in the movie and in Real Life, and Ryan Gosling knows it. Ford as the elusive Deckard put forth the acting performance of his career. It was well worth the 35 year + 2 hour into the film wait. Ryan Gosling perfectly played the obedient Nexus 8 replicant, whose emotional incubation was the very essence of this film. Jared Leto was more than adequately terrifying in his brief but riveting scenes, as he played the sightless Niander Wallace. Best office ever!
- Female Cast, Replicants and Joi Feminists and Social Justice Warriors did not wait long to howl in outrage about the blatant and unacceptable sexism in Blade Runner 2049. Outrage rejected. Ford and Gosling nailed it for sure, but what made the acting in this movie spill way over the top of the L. A. flood wall was the incredible performances from Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, MacKenzie Davis and especially Sylvia Hoeks, who played Mr. Wallace’s uber-ruthless assistant, Luv. As great as these other performances were, the show-stealer was a character that was not even human…or replicant. The relationship between Joi and K will simply rip your heart out.
- Writing, Soundtrack, Pacing Blade Runner 2049 was 2 hrs. 44 minutes long, which was a perceived problem, but not an actual one. The story is so compelling and fascinating that the viewer is transferred to the world of the Blade Runner and immediately entranced and captured by the relentless future melancholy.
So far, there is nothing mysterious here. There was great direction, cinematography, writing and acting. What sets this movie apart from all the rest? Woven around the gorgeous visuals and stunning action was a compelling story about relationships. The theme: Humanity, replication and reproduction. Villeneuve walked the tightrope of incorporating the original Blade Runner movie while presenting a powerful thought exercise about perspective. There were humans, replicants, and something else as well, as demonstrated by Luv. In the movie the lines between these lifeforms became more blurred as the movie progressed. The character development was a work of genius and the risk that Villeneuve took with the parse use of Leto and the late entry of Harrison Ford helped make the movie the wonderful work of art that it is. The unexpected plot twist where K learns what he is, and more importantly, what he is not, was a pleasant surprise.
Blade Runner 2049’s greatest weakness, the long run time and the slow pacing were also it’s greatest attributes. Those who loved and appreciated it were talking about it the moment they left the theater and will probably be talking about it for weeks, months and years.
10.0/10.0 With the Goatesian Seal of Approval