REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049

Review by Dustin Heller

Thirty-five years after the release of the original Blade Runner comes the long-gestating sequel, Blade Runner 2049.  The film is directed by auteur, Denis Villeneuve, who has made some of my favorite films from this decade including Prisoners, Sicario, Enemy and Arrival.  Ryan Gosling headlines an A-list cast that includes Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Dave Bautista.  Blade Runner 2049 is rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.

On a routine Blade Runner mission, LAPD officer K unearths a hidden secret that could have catastrophic consequences for the entire world.  Once word of this secret gets out, there are a number of people trying to put an end to it while K searches for answers.  His journey leads him to Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner who has been missing for 30 years.  Rick might have the answers, but will that be enough to save society?

Like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is an existential film that is thought-provoking and extremely moody.  The film is going to be a smash-hit with critics, but I’m afraid it will fall flat with general audiences.  Considering this is a big-budget sci-fi film with big special effects, there is very little action and an over-abundance of dialogue.  Towards the end of the movie, Harrison Ford’s character says, “I can’t tell what’s real”; this statement sums up the biggest problem with the film.  The complex story really does become a little too confusing and the nearly three-hour runtime starts to drag a bit.

There are number of things I love about this film, but I’m not sure any of them will play well for the masses.  Hans Zimmer’s score is hauntingly beautiful and Roger Deakins’ cinematography is out of this world.  Denis Villeneuve is, without question, one of my favorite director’s working today, but it felt like he was channeling his inner Stanley Kubrick here.  Again, I think that is good for some and bad for others.

In contrast to some of the big popcorn blockbusters where you don’t have to think much, Blade Runner 2049 is a thinking man’s film.  This is the reason I worry about its mass appeal, because most people like to go to the movies to relax and have fun.  Blade Runner 2049 probably isn’t the film for them, but cinephiles will probably walk away satisfied.  I would definitely recommend this film, but I’d want to make sure that the individual I was recommending it to knew exactly what they were getting into.

Grade:  B

Blade Runner 2049 opens in theaters on Friday, October 6