Directed by Denis Villeneueve, “Blade Runner 2049” is sure to be remembered for its extravagant and surreal visuals, as well as powerful dives into themes of humanity, free will and the place of technology in our lives. Despite this, it is also a film that may be hard for most moviegoers to digest. In its ascent towards what can only really be defined as greatness, “Blade Runner 2049” has decided to be a thought provoking piece of art instead of a stereotypically exhilarating action flick.
The world of “Blade Runner 2049” is mostly a familiar one, at least as sci-fi films are concerned. Rather than focusing on world building, it focuses greatly on character building. The technology isn’t anything you haven’t seen before in other science fiction films. The people of the film own slave-like robots, with human anatomy and “souls” holding an almost religious importance and the possible free will of the robots or “replicants” being ignored.
Leading actor Ryan Gosling (A “blade runner” known as “K”) does an outstanding job conveying his inner struggles and emotions with his body language and voice while his face remains mostly stoic. Throughout the movie, viewers learn more about how he’s feeling, or if he’s feeling anything at all. Gosling had more chemistry with the supporting characters in the film than many leads do in other films.
The visuals in the film were phenomenal to say the least. This is one of the best shot films I have ever seen, period. While some CGI heavy shots were underwhelming, the initial pan across the city we spend most our time in comes to mind. It is otherwise not only a gorgeous movie, but a borderline surreal one as well. Some scenes are very pretty, yes, but more than that they make clever use of lighting to convey just how inhuman this humanity-obsessed culture has become.
Here is where I have to bring up the flaws of the film, or at least what could be perceived to be so. First and foremost the film is overly long running at two hours and 43 minutes. While the film is wonderfully shot, there are many moments that are beautiful, but could have been cut. One incredibly impressive scene between K and his AI at home comes to mind, a scene where viewers are torn between, “This is some of the most impressive CGI ever,” and “Why isn’t this scene at least one fifth the length it actually is?”
The other possible flaw I could see some having with it is that it is light on action, as admittedly the trailers did make it seem like it would at least slightly lean on these types of scenes. Plus, the last time Harrison Ford came back to a franchise he was gone from for over 30 years, it had lots of explosions, so that may have contributed to people thinking of it as an action movie too. Some people left the film midway through, and the misleading trailers along with the exceedingly long length may be why.
“Blade Runner 2049” feels like a pretentious indie film with a huge budget in all the best ways possible. It uses its budget to make people think, utilizing different types of lighting and symbolism to reach its audience in ways words would be far too direct for. While it is light on action, the action that is there is extremely personal and well-choreographed. It has a little bit there for everyone, even people who like big dumb action movies.
Its long run time is unfortunate, as many will give up on it due to that alone, but for those who stick with it, the experience is one of the strangest rides you’ll go on in a theater.