Blade Runner: 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 classic sci-fi film, Blade Runner. Potential viewers who missed the original will be happy to know that 2049 firmly stands on its own. You’ll want to go back and check out the 1982 version for further context. Like the original, 2049 tells a philosophical and intellectual narrative about the meaning of humanity, the origin of the soul, and several other deep questions. In that way, Blade Runner: 2049 is a hard film to review. I’ll avoid almost all plot points besides the basics, because Blade Runner: 2049 is one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking movies of the year. To spoil of any of that would be a severe injustice.
Here’s what I can tell you about the plot of Blade Runner:2049. Set in California in the titular year, the dystopian world explored in the 1982 film has advanced 30 years forward. Near-human machines named “replicants” have been reintegrated into society. However, older models of replicants are hunted down and “retired”, all by the hands of special police known as blade runners. Centered a blade runner named K (Ryan Gosling), the film unravels a large mystery that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. During the opening scene, K is on a routine investigation of a possible replicant. After finding out some troubling information during his investigation, K spirals into a conspiracy and mystery that feels more relevant today than ever.
That’s where the plot synopsis will have to end, because anything else specific will spoil it. Unlike the original Blade Runner, 2049 puts a large emphasis on both character development and an interesting mystery. Eventually intertwining these two into a dual narrative, 2049‘s story manages to organically intrigue audiences and constantly pose questions. Although the film is quite lengthy at 2 hours and 45 minutes and there’s a significant lack of “hollywood action”, 2049 was able to hold my attention throughout. Partially due to great performances and fantastic writing, I firmly believe that 2049 is one of the finest written scripts of the year.
Although the quality of the script and performances can be debated, I think we can all universally agree that Blade Runner: 2049 is a beautiful film. Objectively speaking, there’s a ton going on. The world of 2049 is not a digital future like the ones we see so often, but a very mechanical one full of pipes and levers. The world of 2049 feels incredibly real, and the technology and rules of its world are some of the most interesting I’ve ever seen on film. There’s a metric ton of inventive and imaginative ideas, some of which are purely contained to a single scene. Generally speaking, 2049 not only looks good, but feels tangible.
As a combination, the visual cinematography and audio design of 2049 is nearly perfect. A few lines are lost to an exceptionally loud score, but for as loud and boisterous as the film can be, it can equally thrive in silence. Director Denis Villeneuve and Cinematographer Roger Deakins make an unstoppable pair, creating aesthetically orgasmic environments that are shot beautifully. There’s so much thought and inspiration in the composition of 2049‘s scenes, that to not acknowledge it would be criminal. Say what you will about the story, the score, the performances, whatever. Bottom line, Blade Runner: 2049 is the best looking film of 2017, only rivaled by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
Blade Runner: 2049 is a long movie, and there’s not a ton of action. When things do get crazy, 2049 handles it with ease. However, the film performs best when it sits back a bit and lets the audience ponder its themes. There’s a lot of ideas to take in, and much like the first Blade Runner, I firmly believe most audiences will need a second viewing to clear things up. That being said, I know that some will be deterred by not having seen the original film, and I strongly urge you not to worry. Blade Runner: 2049 stands completely on its own as an incredibly interesting film that presents one of the year’s best mysteries with 2017’s best visuals. If you have the chance, go check out Blade Runner: 2049. It’s well worth it.
Movie Rating: 5 stars.
Movie Rating Guide
1 Star = Unwatchable
2 Stars = Cannot Recommend
3 Stars = Would Watch Again/For the Fans
4 Stars = A Solid Movie
5 Stars = Must Own (DVD/Stream Download)
I'm a life long gamer and an overall media junkie. In addition to writing great articles like this, I host a gaming/comedy podcast called "Super Gamecast 64" available on iTunes and Stitcher. I also watch an unhealthy amount of movies, and try to spread as much love into the world as I can. Hope you enjoyed the content!