Replicants still exist as of 2049, 30 years since the events of Blade Runner. The world has changed, yet is still very similar to the place that once existed. The law searches for outdated replicants that have since been replaced by a modified and more docile model.
Living in this futuristic world, the ability to distinguish what is real and what is not is an extremely difficult endeavor. Replicants have been created to assist in all functions of life, and they are nearly indistinguishable from their human counterparts. And where there is not a true replicant, there are plenty of holograms and real-life people at every turn.
Blade runners are there to do the job of removing the old replicants while life teeters on the brink of chaos. K (Ryan Gosling) is one such blade runner, and after a routine call, he finds a box. The contents of that mysterious package set in motion his next actions, including his search for former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Is finding Deckard the answer to all of K's questions, or is it just the beginning of more questions? Blade Runner 2049 will get to the bottom of those questions and more -- or will it?
Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) takes the helm of this movie that is part sequel and part new journey. In telling this new story, he is careful to walk the line that fans of the classic first installment would expect. Although he undoubtedly had those fans in mind while creating this film, Villeneuve brings his signature style to the methodical pacing. Make no mistake, this is not an action film. It's more of a dramatic, sci-fi journey with some action sequences. The battles that exist will be fought more fiercely in your head than on the screen.
In the blade runner role, Gosling brings the right kind of attitude to the K character. He expresses his confusion yet total devotion at every turn. Teaming him with Ford allows the merging from the old to the new, and the elder Ford imparts his ways (along with his fists) on the younger Gosling. By pairing these two together, Villeneuve put the right players in the right places for this journey, including strong roles for Jared Leto and Robin Wright and an amazing performance from Ana de Armas.
But the real star is the visuals. The dark and gloomy surroundings of 2049 America are stylishly brought to the screen by cinematographer Roger Deakins, making this another impressive notch on his resumé. The film oozes an environment that absorbs the viewer. I also was impressed by the sound that came from all corners of the theater. A film that is really quiet at times, Blade Runner 2049 also blasts into your mind at all the right moments with booming sound.
I would criticize the length -- checking in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, it is one the longer mainstream films you'll see this year -- but I found myself glued to my seat for the duration. (I did fidget a bit though, so excuse me please.)
Villeneuve has established himself as a special director, and because he is working with the best talent in front and behind the camera, the film is a solid addition to the genre and the franchise. The questions raised in Blade Runner 2049 will keep viewers talking for a long time. Just be ready -- you may not be able to figure out all the answers.
Paul's Grade: B
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