Blade Runner 2049 movie review: Will satisfy fans but won't win over casual viewers
With Arrival, director Dennis Villeneuve marked himself out as a force to be reckoned with in the sci-fi space. With Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott's cult classic, Villeneuve sought to prove himself a master of the genre. The end result, however, falls short of both the original as well as the lofty expectations one had of Villeneuve.
In all fairness, the film is well directed – the dystopic Earth that Villeneuve has created is visually compelling, and the film's score suits the atmosphere perfectly. However, at just under three-hours-long, the film's self-indulgence becomes the source of its undoing. While fans of the original might find the movie interesting, new viewers are likely to be turned off by the meandering narrative.
Blade Runner 2049, like its source material, is based in a dystopic world where humans have colonised other planets, using replicants (bioengineered humans) as slave labour. Blade runners are police officers tasked with eliminating replicants who go rogue.
The movie centres around one such blade runner – Officer K (Ryan Gosling). K is an interesting mix as he is both blade runner and replicant. On one of his missions, he tracks down a former combat medic replicant (Dave Bautista), and discovers human remains in a box on the property.
The remains, eventually determined to be that of a replicant, lead to the shocking revelation that replicants may potentially be able to reproduce. Since this development would likely rock the societal order, K is instructed to destroy all evidence of this.
However, in the course of carrying out these orders, K realises that he may be linked to the deceased replicant, leading him on a journey that will turn his robotic existence on its head.
A decent sequel
Villeneuve's vision of a futuristic world is highly imaginative. He creates a compelling visual setting that is perfectly offset with some old school whirring and beeping that really creates a classic sci-fi experience.
For anyone who enjoyed the original film, or is just a fan of sci-fi in general, the movie is definitely an interesting offering. It builds on the premise of the original, while also expanding upon it to create a reasonably connected and compelling sequel. Interestingly, it also doesn't seek to answer details that were left open-ended in the original, allowing fans of the franchise to continue theorising.
A complex character, dealing with the inherent conflict that comes with being a replicant blade runner, Gosling's performance as K is great. His portrayal of K is largely robotic, interspersed with moments of doubt and brief flickers of humanity, exactly how the character should be depicted.
However, for all that it has going for it, the movie is nowhere near as crisp as it should be. Sci-fi flicks tend to be on the longer side, but Blade Runner 2049 really overstays its welcome. What should have been wrapped up in a cool two hours is instead riddled with dull filler that does nothing to add to or further the plot. It could perhaps have justified its long runtime had it shoehorned slightly more action in.
Should you see it?
If you're a fan of the original, definitely. If you're a fan of sci-fi, a highly under-served genre, this movie is a welcome offering. However, if you're just a casual viewer with no interest in the original or sci-fi, you'll be bored senseless.