The following words will be considered heresy to most serious fans of cinema. Now, having said that then I’ll say this—I never really cared for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. It isn’t that I haven’t tried. I’ve seen it at least three times since its release and my feelings are always the same. While I admire its incredible production design, courtesy of the legendary Douglas Trumbull, I feel that the film is a joyless and narratively starved endeavor. The film hovers around the two-hour mark, in all of its varied incarnations, but it has always felt twice as long to me due to its sluggish pacing and oppressive backdrop. This is a tough thing to admit when in the company of scholarly cineastes who admire Scott’s dystopian vision and on more than one occasion I’ve chosen to remain silent on this subject. Now with the sequel finally seeing the light of day 35 years after the release of the original I figured it was time to come clean and so I have.
Having gotten that out of the way, I’ll also say that I’m also not a tremendous fan of the director of Blade Runner: 2049, Denis Villeneuve. In spite of the fact that he seems to have been anointed as the second coming in terms of visionary filmmakers. I have found—with the exception of his 2010 film, Incendies—his output to be wildly overrated. All of this put me at odds in terms of reviewing one of the most anticipated films of this year.
Even though I have little love for the original Blade Runner, I’m going to hedge a bet that most fans of the original are going to find the sequel a worthy followup. Like the original, it’s methodically paced, even more so this time with a way too leisurely running time of 164 minutes, almost twice as long as the original. This second installment of the Blade Runner mythology is also a triumph of production design/art direction that never disappoints in those areas. For those reasons alone even a non Blade Runner fan like myself can appreciate what this film brings to the plate. The breathtaking cinematography by veteran Roger Deakins is worth the price of admission alone.
The problem once again is in the narrative department. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that the story involves an LAPD officer named K (Ryan Gosling) who, thirty years after the first film’s story ended, is attempting to unravel some secrets that some have gone to great lengths to bury. There is a somewhat interesting continuation of the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the main character from the first film, which requires some knowledge of prior events. The relaxed pace of the early parts of the film strangely proves to be at odds with a third act that feels a bit out of synch with the rest of the picture, as if some last minute rewrites were completed just prior to the commencement of shooting. For Blade Runner fans this probably won’t be as problematic as it was for me. As for me, my preexisting baggage has been duly noted.
Blade Runner 2049 is playing in Hickory and all over the area.
Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049
Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049
Questions or comments? Write Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.