Director: Denis Villeneuve
How much time is too much time between a film and its sequel? Does Hollywood have to strike while the iron is hot on certain film properties? When you think of sequels that came far too late, you probably think of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or Dumb and Dumber To, films that attempted to recapture an audience they had some 20 years prior. Is this always the case that such time gaps results in bad sequels? Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original Blade Runner that was released 35 years ago, and, in many respects not only does it manage to capture the essence of what made the original film so beloved, it manages to surpass it.
Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the original story ends, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner, an android, Replicant, designed to hunt other Replicants who flee and attempt to free themselves from a life of slavery. During the course of his duties, Officer K stumbles upon a truth that may, “break the world.” He is ordered to determine if what he discovered is actually real and destroy any evidence of its existence.
If my synopsis of the film seems basic, it is because the drive of the plot is simplistic in its nature, which is something I feel makes a movie great. We don’t need overly stuffed complex premises. The focus of the plot should be simple to grasp, the characters are what need to be complex and the world they are in needs to be well defined, that is it. For this movie, we get that simple drive, we understand very early on who Officer K is and why he embarks on solving this mystery, yes his motivations shift as he discovers more and more information, but the endgame of the story never changes. So long as you care about the solution to the mystery, you’ll love the plot, if you don’t…. well, the film is 2 hours and 40 minutes long, so I hope you bought the large soda at the concession stand. You may have heard that the film is supposed to be a visual stunner, you were misinformed, this film is a visual masterpiece. What I loved most about that visual quality of this movie, is that each important moment in the movie has its own scene, its own color palette, when you think of a specific plot point in the story you are sure to remember what the scene looked like, what the lighting was, where the characters were, that is honestly a feat in and of itself. The big problem the first Blade Runner had, was the notorious number of versions of the film, I believe SEVEN was the last count. There were different endings, some versions had Harrison Ford literally narrating the entire movie because the studio didn’t want the audience to feel lost. It made a film that is very good, become diluted. That problem is avoided with Blade Runner 2049, the writers and Director knew what they wanted and they went for it, the result is an excellent product and a solid movie, is it for everyone? Of course not, but for its genre, this movie will be a cult classic like its predecessor.
Although you will be fine not having seen the first film, it would help in a few scenes where there are subtle references to the original film, however, I will say this is a solid stand alone movie, so watching the first film is totally optional. This film is a neo-noir style of film, a dark world with a deep mystery, the whole premise of the film revolves around solving that mystery. If that is your type of movie, you’ll love it, fans of the first film, you’ll love it as much as the first movie, for those who don’t like dystopian future films or neo-noir films, outside of the superb acting and directing, it may not be your cup of tea. For me, this was a great film, one of my favorite movies this year, but it may not be for everyone, however, if you’re looking to branch out and experiment with your tastes in movies, you can’t go wrong with this one.