Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is an extremely well-done and long-awaited sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner,which is one of the most revered science fiction films ever made. The characters in the film are based on characters from the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and picks up decades after the first film leaves off.
Blade Runner 2049 continues the film noir storytelling from the perspective of “K” (Ryan Gosling), who steals the show as the protagonist. Keeping the same fatalistic and dark tone of the original film, the dystopian world of 2049 seems very real and palpable. While the original film still holds up today, Villeneuve does a great job of keeping some of the original elements of Blade Runner while utilizing the unlimited potential of today’s special effects capabilities.
The film opens up with K searching for a replicant (a robot created to look and act like a human) named Sappar Morton (Dave Bautista), who has been living on a farm growing protein and has outlived the amount of time he was given. After a hard fought hand-to-hand combat, Morton chastises K for being a fellow replicant killing other replicants, and also alludes to the fact that there is more potential to the creations than meets the eye. After a fight scene in which K eventually “retires” (destroys) Morton, he finds a box that contains the remains of a replicant woman who may have given birth to a baby. This would be a groundbreaking discovery, as this was previously believed to be impossible. During this time, K begins to wonder whether or not he is part human, as he seems to feel and has memories from times before.
Once he goes on his journey to find out what is real is when the film starts picking up. His girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armas) is extremely loyal to K despite the fact that she is a hologram who desperately wants to feel. Robin Wright plays Lieutenant Joshi, and does a great job of being a stern leader while showing some humanity throughout the film. Jared Leto, as the film’s villain Niander Wallace — the man that bought out the Tyrell Corporation from the 1982 film, does a great job of being the stock evil genius throughout the film.
Ford’s Rick Deckard, although shown in the previews as a major player throughout the movie, is really only a big part of the last 45 minutes. He reprises his role as Deckard masterfully, and has good chemistry with Gosling when they finally meet up, and brings his hardened charm to a film that is otherwise very bleak.
The film brings to the forefront many questions about the constant innovations of artificial intelligence, which are very pertinent in the 21st century, in an extremely creative light. The question of “what is human?” is basically the theme of the movie. Villeneuve does a great job of creating a world that is dark, bleak, and raw, much like the original film. He also masterfully places the superior technology throughout, including flying cars, holographic people, and a futuristic underbelly of Los Angeles that is reminiscent of the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope.
Although long, the movie moves along very quickly and smoothly, with Gosling nailing the role of the hard-boiled detective throughout the film. Each scene is extremely well-shot and well-calculated, and is very fun to watch. Although not one character smiles throughout the film, the viewer gets a thrill ride through a futuristic version of Dick’s vision from a half a century ago.