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 model Blade Runners 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 this mission, K discovers the remains of a female replicant who died decades earlier during childbirth. He also sees a marking on a tree that triggers a flashback to a vivid memory from a childhood that could not be his own, but seems far too real to be a simulation. On what seemed like a normal mission, K has made two groundbreaking discoveries. The first was that a replicant reproduced and gave birth to a child, which is something no one thought was possible. The second was a vivid memory that K has, but (as far as he knows) he was created in a lab as an adult replicant.
K is now on the run from officials and the replicant manufacturer (Jared Leto), who is searching for the key to breeding replicants rather than creating new ones. Without knowing who he can trust, K must search for answers by tracking down the mysterious replicant child and his father.
The Pros & Cons
Ryan Gosling (+4pts)
Pro: Ryan Gosling (+4pts)
This film spends a ton of time with Ryan Gosling’s character, K. K is a Blade Runner who is contemplating his significance and humanity. The character is very short spoken and has always been a very efficient Blade Runner who is willing to do all of his boss’ dirty work, but he is experiencing a heavy internal struggle. He is a replicant so he is not a real man in our traditional definition of the term. K was created (as a full grown man) in a lab, he begins experiencing flashbacks to a childhood he supposedly never had. Is he a man? Is he a replicant? Either way, is he able to live with the terrible things he has done as a Blade Runner?
This is a very short-spoken yet complex character. He does not say much and has lived his life as a replicant so does not experience emotion yet he is going through a heavy inner journey. Ryan Gosling has to embody this complexity without saying much and while maintaining the character’s lack of emotion. Ryan Gosling does a truly impressive job at balancing all this. He plays a believable replicant and plays the character’s complexity as confusion. There are a ton of scenes in which Ryan Gosling is staring at and/or contemplating things. This can be boring at times but there is a ton of subtlety in the actor’s eyes and facial expression. This had to be a difficult and complex character to portray effectively but Ryan Gosling did a fantastic job.
Con: Slow (-5pts)
A film’s length does not matter as long as it is able to maintain the audience’s interest. This film is about two hours and forty-five minutes long but it feels an hour longer. There is just so much filler in this movie. Watch Ryan Gosling stare at things, watch Ryan Gosling walking through drawn-out transition scene after drawn-out transition scene where the only purpose is to show off the beautiful backgrounds, and listen to Jared Leto deliver long monologues using a monotone and drawn-out voice. This film is certainly long, but the problem is that feels really slow and drawn-out.
Pro: Visuals (+10pts)
There is no doubt about it, Blade Runner 2049 is a visual masterpiece. Every moment of every scene is 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 films. With this film, the sets are absolutely breathtaking. The costumes are also unique while staying in line with the first film. It is difficult to put into words just how beautiful this film is. An art gallery could fill its halls with stills from the movie. Every shot is truly stunning. I had my issues with this film but I cannot deny that it was visually magnificent.
Con: Romance (-5pts)
So, K is a replicant but he his in a romantic relationship with the artificial intelligence he bought for his home, Joi (Ana de Armas). The two are in love with each other (or at least they believe they are) and this becomes a huge focal point for the film. This was a decent story arc and both performers did a decent job, but the film felt slow and suffered to give proper depth to its main concepts. Instead of refining the film’s pacing or diving deep into the concept of humanity and 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 has with his artificial intelligence.
This side-plot is basically a more futuristic version of the movie Her, but obviously does not get the proper time to connect with the audience like Her was able to. This romantic relationship could have worked in a book or television format where there is enough time to develop the romance and the story’s main issues. Unfortunately, in this film, the romance felt like a distraction from the film’s plot issues.
Pro: Action (+4pts)
When it was happening, the action in Blade Runner 2049 was very cool. There are cool guns and brutal hand-to-hand combat sequences. Both are made even more impactful by the sound effects. The shots look and sound very brutal which made these sequences entertaining to watch. The devastating nature of this film‘s Action is made even more apparent by watching all the pain and damage that K endures.
By the end of this film, K becomes an injured and bloodied mess. This was refreshing because too many movies show their characters taking a ton of pain, yet they seem unaffected in later scenes. This film is different and it made the action feel very impactful. The action was a bit too few and far between but the action sequences that were in there were memorable and engaging.
Con: Shallow (-4pts)
This film introduces concepts that could have been fascinating to see explored. Unfortunately, the film does a very poor job of exploring these compelling concepts. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alive? What is love? Can these things ever truly be defined? Do we have a narrow minded view of humanity, life and love? All of these questions linger in background of this story but none of them are explored properly.
We have a main character struggling with the idea of not being human. He is in love with his A.I. companion but struggles with the idea that nothing he knows or feels is real. Blade Runner 2049 had the opportunity to explore some fascinating elements of humanity but it ends up feeling shallow. The plot seemed like it got the backseat while visuals got most of the filmmakers’ attention. Sure, this film was a visual masterpiece, but the filmmakers missed an opportunity to explore some truly fascinating ideas and challenge our traditional view of those ideas.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Blade Runner 2049 was a very average film. It introduces some fascinating concepts that question our traditional views of love, humanity, and life. Unfortunately, the film does a poor job of exploring any of the fascinating issues it introfuces which just makes the film feel shallow and dull. When referring to the film’s visuals, however, “dull” is the last word anyone will use. I have said it before but I will say it again, this film is a visual masterpiece.
The filmmakers played it safe with the plot and subject matter but went all out 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 but my biggest complaints would have to be that it has a shallow plot and incredibly slow pacing that seemed to be the filmmakers way of showing off how epic their sets were. It has some interesting themes that could have paid off in a big way but the result was a long, slow film that was way too shallow and a bit too boring.