Blade Runner 2049: Not Style Over Substance


Steven Bishop (11th), Reporter

Blade Runner 2049, sequel to the well regarded 1982 Blade Runner, is a visual masterpiece. Every image the viewer sees is stunning, filled with vibrant colors or abysmal  darkness, along with being meticulously crafted. Watching the film is captivating and mesmerizing as bullets fly across the screen and chases are speeding down abandoned roadways. Even when characters converse for long stretches of time the film still enraptures and bewitches the audience.  Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins lens the film with perfection.

With the crispness of imagery set aside, consider the expectations you have for the movie. What did the trailers promise? Action, plain and simple with a hint of delving into what it means to be human. The latter is what Blade Runner 2049 is truly about.

When Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling, stumbles along evidence that can lead to war between humans and artificially created beings called replicants, he is tasked by his superior Lieutenant Joshi, portrayed by Robin Wright, to destroy anything and anyone with knowledge of the information.

The biggest problem the audience for this movie will have is the sheer length of its runtime. The picture is two hours and forty-three minutes long. For the most part this condition does not drain the film’s quality but it does make the viewing experience a bit of a chore.

Any movie that attempts to keep the attention of an audience for close to three hours will have a difficult time. Despite the amazing visuals and superb acting Blade Runner 2049 expresses, it certainly drags on for 20 minutes too long.

Pacing may be the only real flaw the movie has. Every facet of the film is admirable and exceptional. The look of the world is grimy and unsettling lending to a unique realization of a dystopian Los Angeles. Each costume is perfect to the character who dons it. Inside the clean and white light filled halls of the Wallace Corporation, characters are garbed in wrinkle free futuristic attire lending to a sense of anxiety towards the location. Once the film’s setting is on the streets of Los Angeles, everyone is covered in clothing that is dirty, dark, and torn while being illuminated by off color neon lights. This ambiance casts a shadow over the metropolis making its appealing nature feel fabricated.

The acting is topnotch. Any actor who has to play a character who believes they are a robot while actually being a human and convinces the observer so is award worthy. Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Rick Deckard from the original Blade Runner, will make you forget that he is on the screen acting. The pain he conjures and the fear he conveys almost does not belong in a film that is foremost in the science-fiction genre. Jared Leto portrays the main villain, Niander Wallace, with a passion that is inordinately unsettling.

Overall Blade Runner 2049 is a remarkable film that is a must see for fans of fantastic cinema. You will care about the plot and its characters, the way the movie looks on screen, and the effort every performer and worker put into its crafting.