I saw the original Blade Runner for the first time last year as part of my Blind Spot series. You can read my initial thoughts here. It’s a very impressive movie and worth watching just for the themes and influence it had on cinema. However, I must own I find it kind of slow and I’ve fallen asleep every time I’ve seen it (which is 5 times now). I saw the new film Blade Runner 2049 in a marathon with the old one and sure enough I fell asleep watching the old one. It’s just too languid in spots.
I did a podcast on the original with my friend Patrick you should check out
With that said, you can imagine my joy that Blade Runner 2049 not only kept me awake but I enjoyed it very much. I think it does the rare thing for a sequel by actually being better than the original film. It looks every bit as good but it is better paced with more engaging characters and action.
Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins do an amazing job creating a world with layers and that feels old and new at the same time. Whether it is sand, rain or snow the atmosphere never fails to be immersive and mesmerizing.
The story is a bit convoluted but basically without spoilers Ryan Gosling stars as K a young Blade Runner who is given the job of retiring older model replicants. As he does this he explores part of his past, a mysterious body and a new organization that replaced the Tyrell Corporation from the previous film.
Harrison Ford is back as Deckard and he’s not in it quite as much as I thought he would but he’s great. It’s definitely one of his better performances and I wouldn’t complain if he got nominated for the role. He’s not just the surly old man he usually plays these days but a wounded desperate man.
There aren’t many cameos in Blade Runner 2049 and it focuses on telling a new story. I loved all the performances with the exception of Jared Leto who I found a bit grating.Robin Wright, Ana de Armas and Silvia Hoeks are all tremendous in their roles and Ryan Gosling is wonderful as the Blade Runner K.
I am not going to tell you I understood everything in Blade Runner 2049 or that it all makes sense but that is part of the fun of a film like this. It has layers you can talk about and interpret differently. It doesn’t spell things out like exposition heavy movies do (except for the Leto character which can be a bit much).
Most importantly I didn’t fall asleep or get bored like I do with the original Blade Runner. I found it engaging and interesting, which was a relief.
There are some issues with the movie. As I mentioned, I wasn’t high on Leto and the plot can be a bit convoluted. Also, it could have definitely had 15-20 minutes cut out and it would have been a little better.
Still, a big improvement over the original so that is a tremendous accomplishment for all involved. Blade Runner fans and non-fans should definitely check it out and enjoy some striking scifi film noire. It’s still not my favorite genre, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.