At a Glance
Blade Runner 2049 is a direct sequel to the Blade Runner movie released in the 1980’s. For those unfamiliar with the series, it takes place in a dystopian future in which human-like androids, known as replicants, are commonplace. As is common in movies of this genre, not everything goes according to plan and people known as blade runners are dispatched to keep the peace. With this basic synopsis in place, Blade Runner 2049 follows suit, apparently taking place a few decades after the events of the first.
As the first movie was produced well before my time, I never got around to seeing it, so this review will be based mostly on the latest movie as a stand-alone film. That being said, at close to 3 hours in length this movie provides plenty to talk about. As usual, you can expect this review to be spoiler free.
A Look Into the Future
The post-apocalyptic society concept is one that has been used time and time again in movies over the last decade or so, so going into the movie I was really hoping Bladerunner 2049 would have some form of originality. Fortunately, it did seem to have quite a bit that made it a unique experience. One thing that stood out, for me at least, was the pacing of the film. Based on the theme alone you would expect the movie to be fast-paced and full of action, but it was actually quite the opposite. The majority of the film was centered on dialogues and the relationships between different characters. Many of these dialogues were philosophical or meant to make some kind of statement about society, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was very easy to get confused or lost, especially if you have not seen the original film. All of this just made for a pretty slow film that would probably lose the interest of the casual movie-goer fairly quickly.
Writing aside, the movie does a great job of capturing the essence of the setting, probably more so than other movies I have seen with similar themes. Blade Runner 2049 thrusts you into a gloomy, dingy, and cramped world where each encounter truly feels like a fight for survival. The performances of each of the characters are phenomenal and really help to make the world feel all the more real and all the more tragic. Some of the most memorable performances, however, were those portraying the cold and inhuman replicants in their attempt to replicate human emotion in times of crisis. Though perhaps not the most relatable on a personal level, each scene and each conflict throughout the film are sure to keep you thinking about a potential deeper meaning.
The Blade Runner Experience
From an artistic perspective, there doesn’t seem to be much that could have been done to improve. Everything from the cramped city filled with holograms and bizarre characters to the thick gloom that hangs in the air with every scene seem to be characteristic of a world far from our own; but the attention to detail keeps it close to home. And it is all complimented by a beautiful soundtrack. Rather than being over the top, the movie seemed to have a very practical depiction of what life may be like some 30 years from now, and that made it even more thought-provoking.
Each character had a strong personality that fueled their personal agenda, but what at first seemed like a fairly twisted mess of differing priorities ended up smoothing out quite well into what was otherwise a very interesting (abstract, yes, but interesting) plot. Rather than following a standard plot path, the movie has you all but guessing what you are supposed to be worried about for the first half of the film only to change direction just when you think you have it all figured out. It helped break down one long movie into what felt like two separate stories.
Despite its many good qualities, Blade Runner 2049 is probably a movie that requires some background knowledge and a specific taste to fully understand and appreciate. Even then you will probably find yourself confused on more than one occasion. This movie is certainly one that is meant to keep you thinking even after the movie has finished, which I find to be a commendable trait. All in all, it is very cinematically pleasing and tells a great and well thought out story, but it may be a bit much for anyone with more simplistic tastes.