Blade Runner 2049 might be the most expensive art house film ever made. Costing some $150 million, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to the 1982 sleeper hit/cult phenomenon is a fascinating film, and an instant sci-fi classic. It will surely delight fans of the original and film geeks in general.
Clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, 2049 is long. Very long. I was impressed, though, that my fellow New York City moviegoers shifted in their seats as little as they did throughout its long run time. They were just in a hurry to hit the rest room when the credits rolled.
2049 boasts an ensemble cast. Our titular heroes are Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, supported by A-list actors Robin Wright, Edward James Olmos, and Jared Leto. Gosling delivers a superb performance. He’s restrained, but nuanced; aware of how his every move looks on camera. It’s always a pleasure to see Harrison Ford on screen. Even at his age, he’s hardly lost a step. Ford clearly enjoyed reprising his replicant-hunting character, Rick Deckard. This may be his best performance in years outside of major franchises like Star Wars. Also be on the lookout for Sylvia Hoeck’s henchwoman character. She’s downright terrifying as she does the dirty work for Jared Leto.
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi vision in 1982 embodied tech-noir, a hybrid genre that at the time didn’t even exist. 2049 is an expertly-crafted continuation. Fans of Scott’s original will be pleased as this sequel wraps up its loose ends. (Although it could easily stand on its own as a sci-fi epic.) 2049 goes further, crafting its own self-contained, mind-bending story. It will have you, along with its characters, questioning what is real and what is not.
Whatever special effects limitations Scott had in 1982 are certainly gone now. 2049 is visually stunning and Villeneuve takes full advantage of the massive budget available to him. The viewer is immersed in the dystopian noir of future Los Angeles. You are either ground-level in the polluted streets, or sky high amongst massive buildings lost behind the smog, haze, and endless rain. The landscapes are rich with detail and strongly evoke the sets of the original film.
In a world of repetitive tent-pole blockbusters and mega franchises, this movie will not be a universal crowd-pleaser. But it’s also not meant to be. 2049’s run time and obscure story will also work against it at the box office. But I must give credit to the studios for giving Villeneuve what seems like full control of his vision here. The result is one of the best sequels ever made.
Contribution By George Poor