Some movies define the genre they are in. When Harry Met Sally in romantic comedies. Die Hard in action. The Exorcist in horror. And Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in sci fi. Scott’s 1982 dystopian epic was full of interesting and complicated characters, incredible production design and special effects that still hold up today, a simple but effective story and a world and mythos that has become a high bar for the genre to strive for. For 30 years fans of the film never thought they would ever see another Blade Runner but lo and behold Ridley Scott returns to the world as producer with director Denis Villeneuve getting behind the camera with Blade Runner 2049. But did it fulfill the expectations of legions of fans?
In 2049 Los Angeles replicants – artificial humans – have become commonplace as servants and slaves to society. Even the police force has embraced them and K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant Blade Runner for the LAPD, hunting down and ‘retiring’ rogue elements of his own kind. After finding evidence that a replicant may have reproduced with a human in the past, K sets off to find former Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to find answers about the possible child and to uncover mysteries about his own past.
Being a huge Blade Runner fan, I was very excited for Blade Runner 2049. Not to mention I am also a big fan of Villeneuve, Scott, Ford and Gosling. So let’s start with the good. Everyone is great in the film although I found Gosling to be a little too brooding. But Ford was great returning to his iconic role, Sylvia Hoeks was great as Luv, and Dave Bautista was great in his small role as a replicant. Also, the production design was out of this world. A brilliantly realized world that complimented the look of the first film, this one is a keeper just to show off your home theatre system. It is jaw dropping. So on to the bad. Coming in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, Blade Runner 2049’s story was the major weak point for me. The main crux of the story is the possibility of replicants reproducing and that was pretty much it. I didn’t find it revelatory, interesting, or presented in such a way that it even seemed like a big deal in the world of the film. In fact, aside from the main characters, the world of Blade Runner 2049 seemed barely inhabited. There was no sense of a huge bustling planet of the future, it just seemed desolate and isolated. And over that long runtime, there are really no revelations or plot points that would keep the story moving and entertaining. It starts off pretty stagnant and stays there for almost 3 hours. Blade Runner 2049 is a beautiful film for sure but I would almost like to see an alternate cut that trims it back to about the 100-minute mark. While that won’t help the lackluster story, it may make it infinitely more re-watchable.