Review: Blade Runner 2049

Written by tha - bang from the blog blah blah blah on 10 Oct 2017
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Very successful and critically acclaimed sequels are hard to find. We have Terminator 2, The Godfather Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Captain America: Civil War but we have an even longer list of lukewarm-to-bad sequels to mention such as Terminator Genisys, Transformers 2 and many, many more.

The question is: where does Blade Runner 2049 fall? Is it Spider-Man 2 or Spider-Man 3? Let's dig in...

Let’s start with the players... we have hot property Ryan Gosling in the lead (this man can’t seem to do no wrong) and he's perfectly suited for such a roles, which he perfected in the movie Drive - the strong silent types who hide an aching heart behind the dead pan face.

We have a very interesting Ana de Armas playing Joi, who brings an interesting philosophical dimension to the romantic love interest plot.

Then we have Sylvia Hoeks and Jared Leto as mesmerizing antagonists to our hero. I wished there was more Jared Leto 'cause the man is brilliant but Sylvia Hoeks as the icey Luv more than makes up for the little Jared Leto screen time. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

The world of Blade Runner has expanded. The expansion of the world beyond the city also mirrors the expansion of the themes from the first movie; the ideas of what makes us human are stretched to cover artificial intelligence and human interaction.

The themes of evolution and prejudice are still there but are nicely woven into the plot so as to not make them preachy.

The plot is very faithful to the pacing of the first movie. Blade Runner is still a slow burner that’s not in a rush to get to the punchline but I believe this version does a better job at creating a cohesive plot and character development than the first one.

Gosling carries the movie and we are with him on his detective story of solving his case, in a world of bright lights, rain and holograms.

The first Blade Runner was admired for its themes, music and sets… yes, there are no umbrellas with light sticks this time but there is Roger Deakins, the man who made James Bond look visually stunning in Skyfall, the man who shot all the beautiful Coen films from O Brother Where Art Thou to True Grit.

The man brings his wizardry of light and colour to the Blade Runner world. From the dessert scene to Jared Leto’s office… the images are nothing but breath-taking and I think this is the one that will finally give the man his first Oscar for cinematography.

My qualms with Blade Runner is that it is a long movie. You can’t watch this after a full days work. The film is paced quite slowly and takes its time to build the pieces together, which ain't a bad thing but you do feel it in some bit.

The other qualm is that the future in this movie is still very white male hetero-normative from the advertising in the film to the relationship dynamics, the film is driven by the straight white male gaze.

You’d think something set in 2049 would say something more complex about sexuality in the future and make it more plural than what we see now. You’d expect more diversity than just white and Asian in the movie.

The film's major cast and supporting cast is still very white. Blade Runner 2049, like the original Blade Runner, is still very much a white males imagining of the future with white man and his sexuality centre of our experience of this future.

Aside from that, the movie is a good mystery with less of the noir visuals from the first but still has the noir sensibilities in how the story unfolds.

It is deliberate and confident and I dare say (depending on the box office performance) this aint the last we see of the Blade Runner movie, we may have a trilogy on our hands.

Director Denis Villenueve revers the old movie well and does some subtle call backs whilst planting new seeds for future Blade Runner movie (s)

  • Side notes : on youtube there are free short films that set up the world of Blade runner between the first movie and the current
  • BLACK OUT 2022   
  • 2036: NEXUS DAWN 
  • 2048 : Nowhere to Run - it's not a must to watch them for the movie but they do give context and nice taste of style, themes and characters.
  • I deliberately stayed away from any plot details than what you get from trailer cause its one of those where its best to go into without too much detail.


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