By Ford Sicore
“Blade Runner 2049” is a stunning sequel to the original “Blade Runner” from 1982. The newer film is set in Los Angeles in 2049, where bioengineered and manufactured humans called “replicants” have been integrated into society to serve as slaves and workers.
K, a Nexus-9 model replicant works as a “blade runner” for the LAPD, someone who seeks out and “retires” older and outdated Nexus-8 model replicants. After investigating a case of a rogue replicant, he discovers something at the scene that he and the LAPD believe could bring society into chaos.
This film had a lot to live up to seeing as it is a sequel to one of the most influential science fiction films in history. Fans of the original film were worried that “Blade Runner 2049” would just be a terrible sequel designed to make a profit off of an already loved franchise. Lucky for fans, “Blade Runner 2049” is a perfect continuation of the story’s universe, and director Denis Villeneuve excellently captures it.
This movie is beautiful, one of the most gorgeous films this year. Each new scene is wonderfully directed, and they are all lush with atmosphere and environmental storytelling. Even with the movie’s runtime of two hours and 44 minutes, every bit of it is pure eye candy. This is fantastic because in the original “Blade Runner,” a massive portion of its story was told through environmental clues scattered throughout each scene, with some story elements being revealed with symbolic foreshadowing whether it’s in the background or a part of the action.
However, its visuals can also detract viewers who are unfamiliar with the story of the original movie. It can be overwhelming because the audience is witnessing these beautiful scenes and not be aware of their relevance because they were distracted by, well, how good everything looks. This sometimes forces watchers to take their attention away from the spectacle and move it towards the dialogue abruptly, which can make the story confusing at some sections as some may miss some important dialogue.
“Blade Runner 2049” is thankfully its own fully fleshed out story, depending very little on plot points established in its predecessor. It only adds to the universe and doesn’t use the original movie as a reference point for ideas, as the plot is completely different to the first. Audiences are not required to see the previous film in order to understand this one, as it is its own story, it has its own characters save for one, and its own new philosophical questions.
The story here is very interesting, it is told in various ways, mostly by hints and environmental clues. A good portion of the story is told without characters speaking, and rather by their actions and body language. It focuses heavily on the divide between the upper class of the future society and everyone else which in turn tells the story of what would happen if what K discovered got publicly disclosed.
The characters here are diverse and well written. Ryan Gosling, in particular, does an outstanding job of performing as a character not considered strictly human, and he uses a lot of distinct behavioral traits from replicants in the previous movie which contributes to the story. Harrison Ford also performs really well because he portrays very interesting despair as an effect of the events of the first movie, and is very good in a particular scene regarding said events.
This movie will please fans of “Blade Runner” more than newcomers to the story, as it can be relatively incomprehensible at times story-wise. But for fans it is very well done, vastly expanding the story’s universe. That coupled with the stunning visual effects makes “Blade Runner 2049” one of the best films this year.