Film Review: ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Maximizes Its Worth with Stunning Direction and Camera Work


Let’s get right to it.  The comments section will be lit up with the inevitable questions about how I feel about the first “Blade Runner” so let’s kick it off with saying, I am not a fan of the original film by Ridley Scott.  Prior to venturing out to see the sequel “Blade Runner 2049,” I felt a revisit was necessary of the sci-fi classic which I hadn’t watched in over fifteen years.  Long story short, the original is monotonous, mundane, and unengaging as it trembles the line between a neo-noir flick and a pretentious motion picture just trying to be more than what it is.  With that out of the way, Denis Villeneuve‘s outstanding interpretation of a troubling story is one of the year’s most vibrant movie experiences.

“Blade Runner 2049” tells the story of “K” (played by Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling), a young blade runner who’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard (played by Academy Award nominee Harrison Ford), who’s been missing for thirty years.

From a script by the original “Blade Runner” writer Hampton Fancher and Michael Green (“Logan“), the anticipated sequel maneuvers through a complicated story of discovery and redemption.  Those who are expecting explosions and full-on action sequences should harness their expectations as you are in for a more cerebral, emotional experience.  The story walks a delicate, fragile, and damn near invisible-line between full-on science fiction and an art house independent feature.  Director Villeneuve’s cunning and stylish direction is one to admire and study.  With an already impressive resume that includes “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival,” he continues to elevate his own procedures, quickly becoming one of the most exciting filmmakers of today.

Roger Deakins, who has already etched his name as one of, if not the most iconic cinematographer working today is simply genius.  The film is one of the most exciting and remarkable cinematographic events in modern cinema.  You can take a dozen snapshots, examine its framework and develop a bountiful amount of interpretations about what the scene means.  Deakins’ lavish and arresting passion behind the camera stands tall next to his already iconic works in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”  After a record 13 Oscar nominations without a win, we may have finally approached the year where the Academy can no longer deny him.

Where the film truly shines is in its illustrious and extravagant music and production design.  Composers Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer create a vigorous and lively score that pulsates on the screen with every cinematic beat while Dennis Gassner seems to take cues from our own creator to spawn a world that feels substantive and palpable.  Even Renée April‘s glib and skillful costume work makes a compelling comparison to any period or fantasy piece made this year, despites its subtle qualities.  

In any futuristic film, it always seems as if the acting takes a backseat to its visual features.  In “Blade Runner 2049,” Ryan Gosling offers up his most complex and alluring work since “Drive.”  He taps into someone with a contemplative nature, testing the boundaries of his own psyche and purpose.  It’s a true highlight of an already impressive cast.  Robin Wright and Ana de Armas find their footing immediately in two very different but authentic portrayals.  Littered with a fun Jared Leto, the cast rounds out to be a terrific ensemble.

Blade Runner 2049” is one of the year’s stimulating and dazzling works.  An earnest, moving film that overtakes and outshines its predecessor in every single way.

“Blade Runner 2049” is distributed by Warner Bros. and is currently in theaters.

GRADE: (★½)

Check out the newest Oscar Predictions and see where “BLADE RUNNER 2049” ranks!