Movie Review: "Blade Runner 2049"
Blade Runner 2049
K (Ryan Gosling) is a new model replicant and an elite member of a new generation of Blade Runner. After the disobedience of the last model of replicants, the old models are seen as dangerous and obsolete. As a result, the new Blade Runners have been tasked with hunting and eliminating their predecessors. K is a very loyal, and very effective, new generation Blade Runner who has no problem taking orders and doing his boss’ dirty work. His current mission is to eliminate a former Blade Runner, named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista).
On what seemed like a normal mission, K ends up making two groundbreaking discoveries. These discoveries cause him to question everything he thought he knew about himself and the older models, and this unravels him. K is now on the run from officials and the replicant manufacturer (Jared Leto), who is searching for information K now has. Without knowing who he can trust, K must search for answers by tracking down a former Blade Runner named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a replicant who has not been seen for a long time.
The Pros & Cons
Ryan Gosling (+4pts)
Pro: Ryan Gosling (+4pts)
K was a Blade Runner who was contemplating his significance and humanity as a whole. The character did not speak much, but had always been a very efficient Blade Runner who was willing to do anything that was asked of him, but he was experiencing a heavy internal struggle throughout the events of this story. He knew logically that he did not have a childhood, as he was created in a lab as a full grown adult, but he had memories implanted of a childhood he never had. He was challenged with what it meant to be human, and he was challenged with his role in humanity, and these things made him a compelling character to follow.
Ryan Gosling had to embody the complexity of the character without saying much and while maintaining the character’s relative lack of emotion. He basically had to convey emotion without conveying emotion, which seems like an impossible task, but I thought Ryan Gosling managed to pull it off. A lot of time was spent showing his character silently staring at things and contemplating what they meant. It was honestly boring at times, but Ryan Gosling's performance made it far more interesting than it would have been otherwise.
Con: Slow (-5pts)
A movie's length does not really matter as long as the movie is able to keep the audience’s engaged. This movie was about two hours and forty-five minutes long, but it felt about an hour longer than that. There was just so much filler in this movie. There was Ryan Gosling staring at things, and there was Ryan Gosling walking through large (albeit visually stunning) sets in the most unnecessarily drawn out way. We also had to listen to Jared Leto deliver long monologues using a monotone, uninteresting voice. This movie was certainly long, but the real problem was that felt long, and I thought there was a lot of fat that the filmmakers could have trimmed off of this movie.
Pro: Visuals (+10pts)
There is no doubt about it, Blade Runner 2049 was a visual masterpiece. Every moment of every scene was absolutely stunning. I saw Thor: Ragnarok and Blade Rinber 2049 pretty close together and I think I got a little spoiled with the visual mastery that went into these two films. With this film, the sets were absolutely breathtaking, and the costumes were unique while staying in line with the first movie. The movie looked so excellent, an art gallery could fill its halls with stills from this movie. Every shot was truly stunning, and while had my issues with the movie, I cannot deny that it was visually magnificent.
Con: Romance (-5pts)
K was a replicant, but he his in a romantic relationship with the artificial intelligence he bought for his home, Joi (Ana de Armas). The two were in love with each other (or at least they believed they were) and this became a huge focal point for the story. This was a decent story arc and both performers did a decent job, but it felt like a waste of screen time. Instead of refining the film’s pacing or diving deeper into what it means to be human, the filmmakers decided to spend a lot of time on the relatively emotionless K and the romantic relationship he had with his artificial intelligence. This romantic relationship could have worked in a book or television format where there was enough time to develop the romance and the story’s main issues. Unfortunately, in this movie, I felt like the filmmakers failed to explore any of these things in a truly compelling way, and I thought this story would have been better off without this romance, so that the filmmakers could have focused on other things.
Pro: Action (+4pts)
When it was happening, the action in Blade Runner 2049 was very cool. There were cool guns and there was brutal hand-to-hand combat sequences. Both were made even more impactful by the sound effects. The hit looked and sounded very painful which made these sequences really entertaining to watch, because it almost felt like I could feel each hit right along with the character receiving it.
The devastating nature of this film‘s action was made even more apparent by watching all the damage that K seemed to collect throughout this story. By the end of this movie, K was a broken and bloodied mess. This was refreshing because too many movies show their characters taking a ton of damage, yet they seem unaffected by it in later scenes. This movie was different. Each blow meant something, and it made each subsequent action sequence even more suspenseful than the last. The action was a bit too few and far between, but when they were happening, the action sequences were memorable and engaging.
Con: Shallow (-4pts)
I kind of already touched on this, but the filmmakers introduced concepts that could have been fascinating to see explored. Unfortunately, they did a very poor job of exploring these compelling concepts. What does it mean to be human and what does it mean to be alive? What is love? Can these things even truly be defined? Do we have a narrow minded view of these things? All of these questions linger in background of this story but none of them are explored properly.
With this movie, we had a main character struggling with the idea of not being human. He was in love with his A.I. companion, but struggled with the idea that nothing he knew or felt was real. Blade Runner 2049 had the opportunity to explore some fascinating elements of humanity, but it ended up feeling shallow. The plot seemed like it got the backseat while the visuals got most of the filmmakers’ attention. Sure, this movie was a visual masterpiece, but the filmmakers missed an opportunity to explore some truly fascinating ideas while challenging our traditional view of those ideas. Instead, they just sort of introduced these things, then did nothing with them.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Blade Runner 2049 was not great, in my opinion. The filmmakers introduced some fascinating concepts that could have called into question our views of love, humanity, and life. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did a poor job of exploring any of the fascinating issues that they introduced, which just made the movie feel shallow and unfulfilled. However, I have said it before but I will say it again, this movie was a visual masterpiece.
The filmmakers played it safe with the plot and subject matter, but they went all in with the visuals. The costumes were cool, the action was fantastic (when it was happening), and the sets were absolutely breathtaking. It is an average film in many respects, as the filmmakers were so focused on delivering amazing visuals, that they seemed to drop the ball when it came to the overall plot and the pacing of the story. The filmmakers sacrificed plot for visuals, and I thought the movie could have been a lot better if the filmmakers had properly fleshed out the plot and the compelling ideas in it.