Blade Runner 2049

Film, Science fiction
Blade Runner 2049

'Arrival' director Denis Villeneuve pulls off the dare of the decade. His sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic – starring Ryan Gosling – is a bold triumph

It’s still raining in Los Angeles and those same dark synth sounds swirl in ‘Blade Runner 2049’, a colossal piece of retro-futuristic gorgeousness that follows on thirty years after the events of Ridley’s Scott ‘Blade Runner’. At well over two-and-a-half hours, the movie impresses: sometimes it’s an orgy of neon-coloured street life; elsewhere it’s an existential thumbsucker that Russia’s Andrei Tarkovsky would have been proud to sign. Always, it’s in thrall to the stylishly downbeat vision that Scott hatched back in 1982. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is the thinking-person’s sci-fi event of the year.

Scott’s landmark was a ’40s noirish mystery and this sequel (co-scripted by Michael Green and a returning Hampton Fancher) follows suit. Much like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, it’s a reboot cloned from beloved DNA, with similar action beats and a dramatic skeleton that’s meant to be a bridge for fans. A stubbly Ryan Gosling plays ‘K,’ a trenchcoated hunter of wayward ‘replicants.’ Gosling’s ‘La La Land’ fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a song-and-dance number – or even a smile – yet the actor’s performance is fascinatingly physical as he struggles with existential dilemmas.

Staring down his police boss (Robin Wright), K submits to scary white-room debriefings and is eventually on the trail of mysterious unearthed bones. He’s sent to one of those gleaming megastructures, where a blind tech tycoon, Wallace, likes to talk about his own godliness. As Wallace, Jared Leto acts up a storm behind cloudy contact lenses.

None of this is remotely boring. It’s almost touching to see Hollywood upgrading one of its weirdest properties with a generous budget. But the best parts of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ are when it’s pushing its setup into new territory. K has an affecting, sexually complex relationship with a hologram who pretends to make house with him (Ana de Armas). There’s an interlude in a radioactive Las Vegas, filled with the Elvis-and-Marilyn detritus of a long-vanished culture. And it’s no spoiler to say that we do re-meet the grizzled blade runner of yore, Harrison Ford, who reminds us that these movies were always about the most human of inventions, love, even if manufactured by machines. 

With films like ‘Prisoners’, ‘Sicario’ and ‘Arrival’, director Denis Villeneuve has brought an alien strangeness to the film’s intimate moments. This time, he’s infusing soulfulness into a story that could have felt hollow. He’s flirting with metaphysical ideas on a grand scale. The new ‘Blade Runner’ – human or replicant, it’s hard to tell – is a strange hybrid, and for that, it’s worth cherishing. It’s a unicorn in the fog.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Thursday October 5 2017
Duration: 163 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenwriter: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Cast: Ryan Gosling
Harrison Ford
Jared Leto
Ana de Armas
Sylvia Hoeks
Robin Wright

Average User Rating

3.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|18
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tastemaker

All the ingredients are there: Gosling, Villeneuve, Ford, slick cinematography but sadly it's unnecessarily long and complicated. I'm not even sure prior knowledge would help understand what's going on. It's a highly frustrating output for something that offered so much promise

Tastemaker

Visually impressive and with a great cast.

Those that are fans of the original will enjoy this sequel.

Slow but engaging from start to finish.

Tastemaker

Having not watch the original Blade Runner (I know right.. what kind of loser am I?) this was not a must-watch for me. However, as a fan of Ryan Gosling, I thought I would give it a shot. I was entertained throughout, especially with the high-tech futuristic scenes which are extremely believable, and also the jaw-dropping cinematic shots. The thing I loved most about the film was the awesome sound! There are countless scenes of just scenery and amazing sound. I love the direction of the movie, even if I didn't fully get all the easter eggs in the plot. This definitely makes me want to watch the original Blade Runner now.

tastemaker

Aw man.. why is it that the movies that are so long tend not to be that great.. I literally had no idea what was happening in this movie. Maybe I should've watched the original glad runner? It wasn't exciting at all .. just super confusing

tastemaker

I can't doubt the cinematography. The film is beautiful and stylish from start to end.

But like the perfect Replicant - it's more visually stunning than the last generation, but empty & soulless inside. Just feel that there is one too many scenes of copy elements from the original that, left me and my friends walked out of the cinema strangely un-moved.
Still recommend watching it on the big-screen though.

tastemaker

I watched the original the this one on the same day and the subtle nodes to the original are perfect. I thought it was brilliant and didn't feel like it was almost 3 hours and the visuals keep you engaged. I thought the storyline had more depth than the original and they took it on a interesting new story ark.

Totally recommend


Beautiful and stylish - but so much so that it almost forgets that it's a movie with an audience. An objective outsider should have been brought in to cut half an hour - but still if you like beauty and style then you won't be disappointed. The visuals and the soundscapes are breath-taking and the recreation of the original Blade Runner aesthetic is pitch-perfect. Gosling is great to watch (as always). But a great movie should feel effortless - and it was clear that many in the audience at the showing I was at found it all a tad laborious. The editing was just too self-indulgent. But no doubt an instant timeless classic on DVD for sci-fi fans...

tastemaker

I love the original Blade Runner, and I was relieved by how much I loved this one too.

The story is sharp, and full of nods to the original, and the characters are easy to latch onto, but the visuals and music are the things that make Blade Runner 2049 magic for me, though. The soundtrack and soundscaping are epic, whilst the photography of the whole film is damn-near perfect.


I didn't feel it was too long: I was lost in it, so I didn't notice the time passing. A must-see.

tastemaker

This film is a perfect cinema film, fantastic effects and cinematography making it worth visiting the cinema and not waiting till it’s online!

It was great to see Harrison Ford do his thing although his part was much smaller than expected.

The concept was good, for those coming to Bladerunner as newbies, it explores similar Artificial Intelligence themes that are touched on in Humans and West World. The plot has a great twist but it still didn’t wow me.

It also felt as though it dragged towards the end and could have been half an hour shorter.

Tastemaker

As a big lover of the original I was in high anticipation for this new film - visually the film is attractive, a beautiful combination of starkness and a future metropolis with holograms that mirrors the original. Gosling is a good choice and plays the character well. Ford make a welcome return, although appears far too late into the film. You don't need to have seen the original to understand this one, but it's not the most coherent story and I relate to other reviews, which highlight the difficulties in following some of it. The film is definitely too long, it could have easily had a good 30-45 minutes shaved off, which may have left me with a slightly better impression. Good, but not great.

tastemaker

The film is so full of pregnant pauses. In many scenes we are given extra time to contemplate the obvious. I clearly remember being impressed by the original, but don't remember it clearly enough to make any serious comparisons.

The story is a bit confusing, but I think it would be a mistake to spend too much time worrying about the detail. It had a number of scenes which seemed to scream :  "you are now watching something very significant". In one such scene, which involved a small wooden horse, I heard myself silently chanting "rosebud". 
Tastemaker

The sequel has an intriguing premise (what if replicants can reproduce?) and staggering visuals, particularly the holograms that are used to moving effect. It's also too much: too long, too many tedious fight scenes, too many excruciating monologues (notably from Jared Leto), and too obtrusive sound design (we get it, you can make pulsing sounds, but does it have to be so obnxious?). In short, it's overstuffed and over-indulgent, but still beautiful in the details.

Tastemaker

I did not like the original, at all.  I tried to watch it many times and could never make it the whole way through but I get the feeling in 30 years time, this movie might be similar to audiences.  Yes, it is slow and much longer than I expected but it was like watching a work of art the whole way through.  There are so many scenes that I would love to have a frame of on my wall due to their beauty.  


The entire scene with the hologram girlfriend and human was beautiful and something that I believe will be looked back upon as one of the most stunning moments in movie history.  


I would suggest going to an earlier showing, I felt sorry for those coming in after my showing near 9pm knowing they might miss the last tube home if they want to stay to the end.... london problems eh? 


This is one of the most visually stunning films I've seen in a very long time.  But unfortunately, the fantastic CGI/sets/etc don't make up for the slightly confusing story.  (Even my sci-fi-fan friend was dissatisfied with the storyline.)  I think I read one of the newspapers described Blade Runner 2049 as 'having a beginning, middle, and end, but not necessarily in that order', with which I wouldn't disagree.  It'd be hard for Gosling, as a replicant, to display such a broad range of human emotions that you feel he'll walk away with 'Best Actor' many times over during awards season.  Glad I saw it, but once was enough.  And I agree with everyone else - too long.  Three stars.

Tastemaker

I watched the original the day before I saw this, and really didn't enjoy it...and I have to say, on the whole, the same goes for this. I didn't get all the fuss, it wasn't fantastic. It did get better for the last 45 minutes or so, but it was definitely too long (163 mins). 


Without the risk of spoiling the film for those who have not seen it, I would have to say that I was pleasantly surprised, even impressed by this sequel. The first Blade Runner was not a particularly good film anyway, lauded as it was by film students of that period and later. Ridley Scott has made two excellent movies; The Duellists & Alien. Blade Runner is very watchable, but it was not worth the disappointment displayed by many cinema goers after seeing this Gosling upgrade. Strong performances throughout & perhaps a few scenes could have been clipped. But an intelligent script keep it from being dull. Too long by 30mins......I felt its length. 


I adored the original “Blade Runner” (1982). The movie had a full set of excellent features - brillant director (Ridley Scott); terrific cast spearheaded by Harrison Ford; great storyline adapted from Philip K Dick’s sci-fi novel; mesmerising music from Vangelis.

I could go on and I can only say that that film has been included in my all-time top 10 movie masterpieces since I first saw it 35 years ago.


So any sequel would have to be superb to satisfy me and this one definitely did not; I realise that I am in a minority here after a veritable barrage of eulogies from the critics.


At least Ridley’s film had a discernible plot - robots revolt against mankind; disguise themselves as humanoids; blade runners hunt them down; and so on. The 2049 version plot is so convoluted and mysterious that I was totally lost after the first few scenes.


Heading the cast is Ryan Gosling, an actor who has somehow become a top Hollywood choice with his characteristic facial expressions ranging from blank to sneering. He runs the gamut of emotions from A to B, as the old saying goes.


Harrison Ford, who the makers proudly boast alongside Gosling as joint star, appears in what is almost a cameo role towards the end (and the end is a long time coming after nearly three pretentious and confused hours). 


Ford (the same character as in the original) is now a grizzled ex-blade runner living, after a post-nuclear disaster, in a ghostly casino/hotel (replete with flickering holograms of Marilyn and Elvis), and even that scenario is shamelessly nicked from Kubrick’s “The Shining”.


It would pain me to go on any further so let’s just say that I am truly grateful we didn’t go, as originally planned, to the South Bank IMAX. At least we saved ourselves a goodly wedge for seat tickets.

tastemaker

A modern day classic without a doubt, an explosion of stylised spellbinding cinematography accompanied by the most elaborate score. It is long, nearly two and a half hours,  be prepared, would recommended an early evening viewing 6.30pm  Everybody needs to see this film once.