Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto
Runtime: 163 min
Denis Villeneuve brings back Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard) to a Blade Runner sequel, 35 years after the release of the (at the time) underrated and misunderstood original.
Blade Runner 2049 occurs 30 years after the events of the first movie and it tells the mysterious adventure of Officer K (Ryan Gosling), who goes on a quest to find Deckard, following a long-buried secret that can induce chaos in the society.
Before I actually start reviewing Blade Runner 2049, I need to briefly share my thoughts on the first film and also to answer a question that a lot of people have been asking me: "do I need to watch the original to enjoy and understand the sequel"? Important fact: I re-watched Blade Runner: Final Cut(1997) and a few hours later, I was standing in an IMAX theater waiting for 2049 to start, so I'm pretty sure that I was the best-prepared person in that theater to watch Villeneuve's movie.
After a lot of thinking and analysis, I concluded that I love Blade Runner. The cultural influence that it had on sci-fi and how it changed filmmaking, makes it a masterpiece, even though it has some flaws. From the incredible, profound and intriguing story to one of the brainiest unconfirmed mysteries of cinema, it's one of Ridley Scott's greatest films. It's one of those rare movies that gets better and better with time (extremely underrated when it came out), but it's still mind-blowing how well a film stands 35 years after its release.
I would give it an A, due to some issues that I can't overlook. The romance between Deckard and Rachael (Sean Young) feels very forced and the pacing isn't well-balanced. However, the amazing story, the well-developed characters and the beautiful cinematography, plus an excellent performance by Harrison Ford and an exquisite directing work by Ridley Scott, elevate Blade Runner and make it one of the most influent sci-fi movies of all-time.
So, my answer to the pertinent question at the beginning of this review is ... Watch the original! I'm not advising you to watch it because you'll not understand the sequel if you don't, but due to its importance and how it molds 2049 as one of the best-crafted films I've ever seen.
I don't think this movie is for everyone though. I don't think an occasional film-goer will understand how mind-blowing Villeneuve's movie is or how influential it will become. Some people will feel extremely bored during the first half of the film, some might even leave. Others might enjoy the second half of the movie and end up being satisfied with it. People like me, who LOVE movies and LOVE the art of filmmaking, will leave the theater jaw-dropped and tearily happy for having experienced such a stunning masterpiece!
Villeneuve requested film critics to not spoil any plot point that could ruin the movie. I'm overjoyed to honor that request because this is a film that you NEED to watch at the best quality theater, with the best looking screen and with the best sound speakers. Roger Deakins' cinematography is beautifully perfect. It's just perfect. There's not a better word to describe such flawless and stunning visuals. If he doesn't get every single award for this category, I'll give up on caring about Oscars or Golden Globes. Congratulations on being such an inspiration and on elevating every single movie you're in, Deakins.
Denis Villeneuve reinforces his position as my favorite director working nowadays and as one of the best directors of all-time. His unbelievable imagination and wonderful way of grasping every single moment and turning it into so much more than it actually is, either by adding asphyxiating suspense or overwhelming dialogue, are just two of many phenomenal skills that he possesses.
Michael Green and Hampton Fancher's writing is worthy of all attention and some more from the audience. Every single word matters! Every line of dialogue is filled with so much depth and meaning, which setups so many surprises that Villeneuve brilliantly executes with the help of a memorable soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. Every single technical aspect of Blade Runner 2049 is an epic example of how to produce a film. I have no words to describe how PERFECT the work behind the screen is ...
Ryan Gosling deserves every type of praise and so much more. If he got nominated for his La La Land's performance, he's definitely going to win everything this year. I mean, he has to! His characters' conflicting memory and heartfelt story are extremely well displayed by Gosling in the first half of the movie, the half that most people will have a grudge with due to its pacing, but not me. The deliberately slow rhythm is so magnificently compensated in the last half that I don't even consider it a minor issue. In addition to his great performance, Gosling also has the best dialogue scene in the entire film, which I can't wait to watch all over again hundreds of times.
Harrison Ford has his best performance in years and he also might get some nominations. Once again, his characters' past is as mysterious as it was in 1982 and the surprises are jaw-dropping. Robin Wright (Lieutenant Joshi) and Ana de Armas (Joi) also achieve great performances, as Jared Leto (Niander Wallace) briefly shines in his few scenes.
Finally, the story is what gives this movie the feel of epicness. It truly justifies the long runtime (even if I agree that it could have been 10-15min shorter), but it lays those reasons on the audience, expecting us to wait ... and wait. Patience is more than a virtue in this film, it's a necessity. These are the only pieces of advice I'm giving to people: watch the first movie and WAIT for the second one to blow you away. That's as far as I'm going with the plot, I want you to enjoy and have the same spectacular experience that I had.
Undoubtedly, Blade Runner 2049 is my favorite film of 2017 and it's going to be extremely difficult for any other to surpass it, as Denis Villeneuve's flawless masterpiece surpassed Ridley Scott's original. Denis' technically mind-blowing directing, Roger Deakins' jaw-dropping cinematography, Hans Zimmer's memorable score, Michael Green and Hampton Fancher's incredibly tricky and meaningful screenplay ... All of that, plus heartfelt and compelling performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, elevate this movie and make it an EPIC MASTERPIECE.
I'm filled with tears of wonder and joy ... Go see it so you can be too.