Film Review: Bladerunner 2049

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Say what you will about its content but you cannot deny, everything that has to do with Bladerunner 2049 is stylish. Even the way it’s bombing at the box office right now, it’s bombing in typical, stylish, Bladerunner fashion. I think that’s a tragedy, and I’ve written this review to tell you why.

The Good

Bladerunner 2049 is made with fans of the original Bladerunner in mind. It mimics a lot of what earned the 1982 original its cult following. In format it retains it’s original dingy noir style, though this time with a lot more story. Clocking in at a dangerously long 2 hour and 43 minute length, Bladerunner 2049 runs the risk of losing your attention, but it doesn’t. The plot is chock full of twists, turns, and minor details, that make the long runtime fly by. What’s impressive here isn’t that they managed to make an almost 3 hour movie, it’s that nothing they crammed in it feels like filler.

The performances across the board in this movie are way above average. Gosling is unbelievable, and Harrison Ford has vastly improved on his performance in the original (thank god). Heck, let’s go down the list here, Robin Wright is excellent, she plays this absolutely badass chief of police, and let me just say, between this and Wonder Woman she’s quickly re-entered my mind as one of the greatest actresses I’ve had the pleasure of watching on the big screen. Sylvia Hoeks murders her role as a terminator-esque antagonist. Ana De Armas plays Ryan Gosling’s love interest but there’s something special about her that I won’t give away, and she plays into it beautifully. Even (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) Jared Leto does well in this movie, he’s cast as a character that’s basically what I imagine Jared Leto is like on the weekends. He doesn’t try to steal any scenes, which results in him actually being a boon to the film overall.

This is a music site right? Well, the soundtrack in this movie is great. Understated for most of the movie, but right in your face when it needs to be. It’s that big ominous Bladerunner synth that made the original tracks so iconic. It’s used sparingly, and it feels appropriate when it is, thank goodness, because it could have so easily been used for a cheap burst of nostalgia. The soundtrack triumphs as a part of this film with a life of its own.

But what really impresses me, what really sold me on this film, is that they took huge risks. They expanded on the universe that already existed in a big way. That could have blown up in their faces but it’s a bell-ringing success. This movie is unafraid. They take on the ugly questions about the world in 2049 if it falls down this particular rabbit hole.

For example, the film takes on the idea of sex in 2049. Sexual morality is all but abolished, and as a result it is everywhere. There are also undertones about race, gender, and class. I know what you’re thinking “But Ryan, those undertones are in every movie, they’re old and tired, we get it”. But Bladerunner 2049 has a few fresh ideas about the topic that I won’t talk about here because it would give too much away.

The Bad

There is almost nothing negative I can say about this film from a purely critical standpoint. There are however a few things you could take issue with from a moral standpoint. There is quite a bit of violence against women in Bladerunner 2049 and although it does fit the narrative, that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

I’ll also be the first to admit that this movie was made for fans of the original. Does that mean you have to see the original in order to enjoy the new one? Absolutely not. It’s still a good movie by itself. However, seeing and investing yourself in the original takes Bladerunner 2049 to another level. It is pays an outstanding debt that was owed to fans of the original, with interest. So, if you haven’t seen the original and your movie buddy has, you will have two very different experiences.

The Ugly

There is nothing ugly in this movie. Not a single thing. This film is shot after shot after shot of billboard worthy iconography. Every single frame in this film is a painting. The use of color, light, framing, everything, it’s all beautifully done. I mean, just look at it.

How pretty. This movies cinematography does it huge favors. It expands the universe, and builds the world in beautiful and unexpected ways. If cinematographer Roger Deakins doesn’t win his Oscar for this, then he’s never going to get it. The film looks otherworldly, but fits right here on earth.

The Roundup

Do yourself a favor and see this movie. See it in theaters, and see it on the biggest screen you can find. Support this movie, unlike so many other sequels and reboots and ripoffs, it deserves to make money. Just remember to regulate your fluid intake before you sit down for this one, you’re not going to want to get up again.

– Ryan Manns