Review: Blade Runner 2049

Alfred (Red) Joseph - October 13, 2017

Wow. Just, wow.

The sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner is a phenomenal continuation of the original film. Though repeating the first installment's themes of defining humanity, Blade Runner 2049 complicates that question by further blurring the hierarchy between humans and their replicant slaves.

The way the film addresses this hierarchy is difficult to explain without spoiling it. In fact, before the opening credits at my screening, the theater read a note from the film’s director Denis Villeneuve. In the director’s note, Villeneuve begged attendees from the press not to spoil about seven or eight plot points from the film – and I agree with him. Anyone planning on seeing this movie should avoid spoilers, so this review won’t reveal any important story elements.

2049 is completely for the fans of the first film; watching it without the first movie in mind would make this film less satisfying and confusing, since there is little exposition for incoming viewers. But that shouldn’t discourage anyone from checking 2049 out. This film is worth it.

Part of the experience of 2049 is the immersion into the spectacle of Villeneuve's long, sweeping shots. Like Blade Runner and their previous film, Arrival, Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins force viewers to soak in the settings. There's no doubt in my mind from the camerawork that the film was carefully and meticulously storyboarded. The placement of light, color, props, and location feel breathtakingly cinematic. The amount of effort in the film’s visuals and script made me feel like I was part of a unique and grand experience. Because of this, I highly recommend a second viewing. Watching the movie once you’ve uncovered its secrets, brings a better perspective on how well-crafted it is.

2049 is extremely hard to criticize without spoiling plot details. You can only say so many good things about it without ruining the mystery. But the movie isn’t perfect, and the most I can say is that I found some of the characters’ decisions to be illogical or not well-explained.

Despite those mistakes, there’s so much to appreciate about the film. For one, the acting is incredible. Ryan Gosling and his costar Sylvia Hoeks effortlessly convey their characters' thoughts with quick and impressive facial expressions. In addition, the score was composed by a team that’s scored some of 2017’s best film soundtracks. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch previously worked on the Dunkirk soundtrack, while Wallfisch terrified us last month with his It compositions. Their collaborative score in 2049 sounds like a Zimmer-fied version of Blade Runner’s Vangelis soundtrack.

“Reaction time is a factor in this – so please pay attention.” You look down and you see a movie ticket crawling towards you. You reach down and flip the ticket over; it says Blade Runner 2049. What is your emotional response?

Alfred (Red) Joseph

In addition to writing about film, Alfred “Red” Joseph enjoys writing poetry and politics. He has been writing fiction for seven years despite only recently joining the Moviegoer. Red has passions for criminal justice, boxing, and William Faulkner.