Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review
Gorgeous through and through and pulsing with energy, atmosphere and a vibrant Hans Zimmer score, Blade Runner 2049 is one of the richest, most enthralling movies of 2017, even if its story is simply decent.
Director Denis Villeneuve continues his streak of quality filmmaking (Arrival, Incendies, Prisoners, Sicario) with this nearly three-hour opus of a sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, which puts Ryan Gosling in the driver’s seat as a Blade Runner – cops whose sole job it is to track down rogue replicants and kill them on sight – who on a routine mission discovers a secret that could put the world, but more importantly himself, in jeopardy.
As good as the rest of the movie is, it’s Villeneuve—teamed with Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch – who commands every moment of Blade Runner 2049, which presents a fully developed world on the brink of death – an even less promising view of the future than Scott’s original vision. The world-building is incredible, with impressive detail given to every aspect of what appears on screen, and the movie looks equally incredible; the colors are vibrant, the visual effects simply mesmerizing and the cinematography by Roger Deakins leads to an immersive experience unto its own.
Gosling is terrific in the lead, his performance a perfect fit for the story at hand. Harrison Ford, who reprises his role as the gritty, down-beaten Deckard, shows up a little later in the story than some may like, but also delivers a strong performance—even if his character isn’t given much to do. Ana de Armas also deserves credit for her intoxicating performance as Gosling’s virtual girlfriend, as does Sylvia Hoeks as the dangerous Luv.
Villeneuve is such a talent behind the camera that he probably could have made something of a script written on a cocktail napkin, but as is the screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green works well, even if the story isn’t quite as powerful as it might seem in its first sitting. The film is unpredictable, throws a few twists and turns and offers bursts of awesomeness, but when the end credits roll, you realize the story isn’t groundbreaking.
As perfect as much of the movie is, the ending is frustratingly weaker than the rest. Sure, the original Blade Runner ends sort of abruptly, but Villeneuve leaves several strands open—annoying given that he had nearly three hours to tell his story (the movie doesn’t feel like three hours, but it could have been 20 minutes shorter just the same). The simple wrap-up at the end didn’t entirely make sense to me, and it seems as though the filmmakers went in angling for a sequel rather than to tell a complete story.
Even with a few shortcomings, Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most beautifully made, visually rich and engrossing movies of the year, a fantastically made and intriguingly told film that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.