Blade Runner 2049, released nationwide last Friday, might be one of the few movies left that you truly need to experience in theaters with its intelligent (though occasionally wandering) plot and breathtaking visuals.
Though it clocks in at a lengthy 2 hours and 44 minutes, the extra run-time is forgivable as it gives the audience an excuse to further explore the dystopian world of rain-soaked streets lit up with skyscraper-sized neon advertisements and barren deserts pulsing with orange radiation. On the big screen, you become totally lost in the atmospheric, sci-fi noir world that the original 1982 Blade Runner revolutionized the genre with.
2049 definitely draws upon the slow-burn, noir-style detective mystery of its predecessor. But rather than retreading a familiar story like say, the newest Star Wars movie, 2049 builds upon its original to expand and enrich the world. I won’t say a lot about the plot (no spoilers ahead!), but you should know the story is centered around Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling) and is set 30 years after the original. As a quick reminder, blade runners are tasked with hunting down replicants – robots meant to work “off world” as slave labor and which are illegal on Earth – though this time around K himself is a replicant. He’s a new model created by the terrifyingly cold business mogul Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) that’s been approved for Earth, and must hunt down his own kind. However, on a routine mission to “dispatch” an old model replicant, K discovers something that sends him on a journey to find the former blade runner of the original, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, reprising his role in incredible fashion), and to question what makes a human, and what makes a machine.
If you’re looking for a fast-moving, over-the-top CGI action movie, you won’t find it here. The story is deliberate in pace and takes its time revealing pieces of the puzzle in K’s search for answers. But that just leaves more time to stare in wonder at the work director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario) and director of photography Roger Deakins (Fargo, Skyfall) have created.
Every shot, angle and color used seems to serve its purpose, namely leaving the audience gaping at the beautifully decayed landscape of Los Angeles. Many of the set pieces even threaten to steal the show from the actors, from Wallace’s frightfully bare “office” with rippling gold lights, to a dark showroom where two characters square off while holographs of Elvis and Vegas dancers flicker on and off at random. This is a stunning movie, one you can tell was crafted with care.
2049 pulls off the tricky feat of remaining inspired by its original (directed by Ridley Scott, who produced 2049), without becoming a copycat. You’ll walk out of this movie discussing bigger things than the crazy action scenes (though there are a couple that will leave you on the edge of your seat). In a world that’s moving closer and closer to artificial intelligence, this movie is a perfectly timed conversation-starter about the rights machines should have in the future, and how they will affect humanity overall. All I can say is go see this movie: it’s relevant, it’s beautiful, it’s different and hey, who isn’t down to hang out with Ryan Gosling for 2 hours and 44 minutes?