The 1982 classic Blade Runner is a mesmerizing masterwork, equal parts towering and meditative. This sequel had been in production hell for some time, going back to the beginning of the decade. When trailers started finally being put out and it became clear that the movie was going to come to fruition, it was fair to be cynical. Evocative of the response to Fury Road, Blade Runner 2049 was received warmly. It has a loyalty to the first one that never once falters.
Blade Runner 2049 is magnificent. It is everything it needed to be and perhaps a little more than that. A slow, weird, gorgeous, philosophical effort. It is director Denis Villeneuve’s (Sicario, Arrival) finest film to date. It shows his careful craftsmanship and control in every shot. It’s much closer to The Godfather Part II as opposed to a typical hackneyed sequel.
Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling) uncovers a secret after a job that replicants, the humanoid robots once developed by the Tyrell corporation of the first film and now by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), may be able to reproduce. The implication that this all carries is that these people built to make the real humans lives easier will eventually overtake humans as the dominant species. K’s search for his own purpose and inner peace is framed against the backdrop of the next step of human evolution.
Wallace sees this, and because of the tools he has at his disposal to aid in the creation of the Nexus-9 Replicant, he wants to hold all the cards. It only makes sense that someone like Jared Leto would sign on to play a character seeking to become a God.
2049 has that great aspect to it, where truly appreciating it demands multiple viewings, but it is packed with so many joys and is so well paced and immersive that multiple viewings is rather easy. Gosling offers an easy confidence to a role that doesn’t have him talking often. A man lost in thought pondering his life. Ford is also great and natural, but he plays his return to his role as Rick Deckard a lot like his most recent roles. Ford has always been a director’s actor. If he’s invested in a project, it shows on screen. He’s charismatic and compelling; if he doesn’t, then no dice.
It’s hard to think of a reasonable flaw in 2049 on first viewing. The only element of note is how demanding it is of your patience. The movie forces itself into your mind at every level, from the images to the themes of the music. It is handily one of the best films of 2017.
Written by Jeff Turner