“Blade Runner 2049” is a nostalgic callback to the original and its style, for better or for worse. Set in the sprawling and gritty megacity of Los Angeles in the year 2049, “Blade Runner 2049” follows the life of Officer K, a blade runner. Blade runners are people tasked with hunting down escaped replicants, or those manufactured to serve as slaves.
The story develops as K uncovers an earth-shattering truth about himself and about the replicants he hunts. The original had a near-identical premise, however the two stories only share superficial similarities. “Blade Runner 2049” poses deep philosophical questions about the nature of personal identity and prejudice, leaving it an actual sequel to “Blade Runner” while still remaining true to the style of the original.
The movie is a visual masterpiece, with stunning images and settings that allow the audience to remain engaged throughout the story. The most impressive visual displays are the cityscapes, from the monochromatic, yet vibrant city of Los Angeles. to the ruined splendor of Las Vegas.
The CGI is subtle, making the world look incredibly realistic. For one scene, there was a recreation of the character Rachel from the original “Blade Runner,” which was widely praised for its incredible CGI. Additionally, the technology featured is almost entirely retro-futuristic, a callback to the clunky tech in the original “Blade Runner,” rather than fake-looking wondertech.
The music is awe-inspiring as well, containing emotional swells in both the loud ominous scores that help develop the oppressive atmosphere of the world and the occasional quiet and reserved ones that build suspense or allow for times of contemplation in the audience. The music is the original’s soundtrack modified by Hans Zimmer, who is best known for his work on the soundtrack of “The Dark Knight.” The music is a callback to the original “Blade Runner.”
Despite what the trailer suggests, “Blade Runner 2049” isn’t a traditional modern action movie. The movie only contains a few short fight scenes throughout its entire runtime. They feel different than the fight scenes in other action movies because they are more focused. The fight scenes are not an action hero gunning his way through a horde of generic enemies — rather, they are two unique characters battling intricately in a memorable environment. The emphasis of story was also beneficial because it allowed the few action scenes that remained to be engaging and unique.
The “Blade Runner 2049” cast is no doubt star-studded, but the most impressive performance is that of Ryan Gosling. His portrayal of Officer K is stunning, and allows him to carry the character-focused narrative of the movie. The antagonists are also a high point of the movie because they had distinctive motivations and personalities, and were not simply generic “bad guys.” Harrison Ford’s return as Deckard, the original blade runner, is brief considering the focus on him in the trailers, but is not a negative to the movie. He provides moments of comedy to this otherwise serious movie with his witty one liners and inherent charisma.
The few criticisms of the movie are that, at times, the overall sound design, especially the music, was far too loud. Although the volume was a stylistic choice, it crossed the line from adding to the movie to distracting the audience and changing from beautiful music to unnecessary noise. Furthermore, some plot points are hard to follow the first time through or may require leaps of logic, such as the antagonists being nearly all-knowing. These weak points in the narrative detract from what is otherwise a brilliant story.
“Blade Runner 2049” is accessible to all audiences. It’s not necessary to watch the first movie to appreciate or understand it because there are only a few references to it. It is an incredible movie due to its quality in all aspects and serves as a worthy successor to the original with its stunning visuals, impressive performances, thrilling plot and outstanding performances. Overall, “Blade Runner 2049” is a satisfying movie for the proper audience. It was the movie that fans hoped, and not what many expected.