Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the science fiction feature BLADE RUNNER 2049 by director Denis Villeneuve. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard who has been missing for thirty years.”
I think the vast majority of readers want to know, how does this compare to the original? In all honesty, it feels perfectly in line with Ridley Scott’s vision. Sure, some of the visuals have changed, but the tone of this sequel lines up exactly with the tone of the first Blade Runner.
While this is going to be a great positive to fans, newcomers might not connect with this as much. One of the major reasons being, this is more of a futuristic noir than an action movie. Much like the first picture, there is a great amount of focus put on the mystery at hand and the characters wrapped up in the enigma. This might be off putting to those not already invested in this world as the payoff is less visceral and more emotional.
One other thing of note is that this piece feels less urgent than the first chapter. In the first movie we had a very clear cut villain in Roy Batty that served as the prey our blade runner was trying to hunt down. The mystery was pretty simple, where is this guy hiding and where will he strike next? For the sequel the goal is a bit more enigmatic as we do not have a bad guy that is obvious from the outset, making this journey feel like more of a procedural than a bounty hunter flick.
Guiding us through this latest chapter is the incredibly capable Ryan Reynolds. He is probably going to get a lot of attention for his performance, as he should, but to me the real breakout was Joi, played by Ana De Armas. Not only was her character one of the easiest roles for the audience to connect with, she also proved to have the acting chops to capture the many nuances of the part. While she is never the focus of this feature, she was such a breath of fresh air that I found her to be one of the most memorable parts of the movie.
Speaking of Joi, she gets to be a part of what I considered to be the most visually appealing scenes in this picture. While I do not want to give that moment away, as it is truly stunning, I do want to comment upon the look of this piece in general. What will become immediately noticeable to fans of the original is how different the future looks. Sure we still have our Atari and Coke ads projected all over the place, but now the color palette of the city has changed to reflect the changing society. Even with this visual change, they still keep much of the technology in play in line with what was presented in the first entry instead of trying to weave in the advancements we have made with computers. This means that much of what they use is just a better version of what they already had at play which makes this feel like a cool alternate future.
Of course, no review of this movie would be complete without at some point addressing Harrison Ford returning to the role of Rick Deckard. When it comes right down to it, Ford still has the chops to make Deckard a compelling character. While it plays a bit like when he returned to Han Solo, there is a sense of loneliness about his performance that distinguished this role. He also gets an interesting arc within this feature that builds upon the ending of the original while still exploring new aspects of his character.
Along with the film, the Blu-ray and DVD come chock full with special features that include how the world in which Blade Runner exists was designed, the casting process, prologue videos from the year 2036, 2048 and 2022 along with informative segments on Blade Runner and the Replication Evolution.
All in all, this builds nicely upon the already established world and weaves in some new and interesting ideas. Visually, this is absolutely stunning with some great effects that I am still thinking about. The acting is solid with the role of Ana De Armas being a true highlight as the bubbly Joi. Fans of the original Blade Runner (1982) and Drive (2011) will probably enjoy this futuristic drama.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.