The latest from acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 blends the heady with the heartfelt, becoming a science fiction masterwork that retains the sophistication of the 1982 original even as it pushes the story in a daring new direction. Bolstered by magnetic performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, a stellar supporting cast, and an electrifying final act, the film exposes the sequels-can't-be-better idea as a fallacy and proves that sometimes bigger can be better.
Set against a symphony of synth and silence, this astounding sequel moves from moments of intense meditation to those of explosive revelation with a deftness of which only Villeneuve is capable. The director understands and respects the spirit of the original enough to both deviate frequently and derive sparingly, gifting its sequel with an autonomy that would drive any self-respecting replicant mad with glee. Here is a sequel that not only knows where it comes from but also knows what it is and what it wants to say. Here is a sequel that's as sharply written as it is emotionally affecting. It's this confidence, this competence that pushes this new Blade Runner
away from its ilk and into a class of its own.
Don't mistake the director's intelligence for pretension; what initially sounds like bombast is actually meant as insight, even if Villeneuve can't always communicate or convey his ideas as clearly as he'd prefer. The film takes nearly an hour to gain traction, which would make its first third tiresome, difficult, and devoid of excitement and clarity for some. The plot progression isn't swift or even a priority here; the film keeps its focus trained on Gosling's stoic K, rarely attending to the many tertiary characters and concepts actually propelling the story. However, it doesn't overdo. Villeneuve doesn't bludgeon viewers with his ideas. He does request a certain amount of investment, but that comes with the territory. Its predecessor was no different. Both films go all-in with their concepts, leaving it to viewers to keep up and refusing to slow if they won't. This is high-concept sci-fi that rewards the patient and disappoints the restless.
Blade Runner 2049
stands tall as one of the finest science fiction films of the last decade, even if it falls just short of perfection. Villeneuve has crafted something truly special here, and it's likely to become a classic sooner rather than later.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DENIS VILLENEUVE / SCREENPLAY: HAMPTON FANCHER, MICHAEL GREEN / STARRING: RYAN GOSLING, HARRISON FORD, DAVE BAUTISTA, ROBIN WRIGHT, JARED LETO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10