Set 30 years after the Blade Runner, fans of the iconic movie will definitely find similarities in Blade Runner 2049. Now, the original corporation that created replicants is gone, replaced with a new one run by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). Replicants are now more commonplace on Earth as Wallace’s new replicants have also been ‘programmed’ to be completely subservient to humans.
Ryan Gosling is on a roll with his acting roles, especially after a sterling performance in La La Land. Here, he is Officer K, a Blade Runner who uncovers a secret that ties in with the end of the original movie. K in the movie shows growth, change and maturity, and Gosling’s portrayal of K makes him a character that you will root for from start to finish. Director Denis Villeneuve is also on a roll, after the success of his amazing Arrival.
Everyone else in the cast has their perfect place in the film, every speaking role serving a proper purpose. From Harrison Ford making his return to the Blade Runner universe as Rick Deckard – older and definitely grumpier, to Robin Wright as K’s stoic police chief and even the gorgeous Ana de Armas as Joi, K’s digital companion who surprisingly brings a strong sense of humanity despite her nature. The big bads in the movie also do their bit, and you’ll detest them from the get-go.
The movie is a visually stunning treat for cyberpunk fans, from the neon-lit tech-infused slums that the story begins in contrasting with the barren Mad-Max-esque wastelands outside of the city limits; to a run-down hotel’s nightclub with a Elvis Presley hologram – it just screams of Rapture from the Bioshock series during an amusing ‘altercation’ between Deckard and K. To quote a friend: “This is more Ghost in the Shell than the live-action movie was.”
Of course behind the glitz and flashiness of the visuals and CGI effects, the movie did feel a bit jarring in its storytelling. I definitely felt a tinge of there being too much information being thrown at me. The movie doesn’t feel like there’s space to breathe and process the information that’s been given you or how it relates to a previous scene or the original movie.
Perhaps it’s the effect of having to not only be a homage to a film that’s revered by many but needing to be its own story – the movie spends quite a bit of time expanding on the story’s ideals and concepts rather than allowing the viewer to develop their own conclusions and thoughts, but yet that flood of information also creates even more questions in itself. You’ll definitely need to watch this movie more than once to really get into the meat of it.
I do recommend watching the three shorts that were made as accompanying content for the movie – Black Out 2022, 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run. These shorts do help to visually guide the viewer before jumping straight into the movie. It’s quite a bit of movie handholding but it’s somewhat necessary.
Still, Blade Runner 2049 is definitely a great homage to the original that pretty much birthed the cyberpunk genre, despite it feeling like it tried to squeeze in too much. It’s definitely recommended, especially for anyone who’s looking for the following:
- A sequel to the original Bladerunner
- A better cyberpunk movie than the live-action Ghost in the Shell
- Great performances by a stellar cast in a visually gorgeous movie
- A story that makes you think and question (if you can get past the answer-on-a-plate feeling)
Bladerunner 2049 opens in Singapore from October 5th.