Blade Runner 2049
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"The picture is so sublime and provocative that you just have to sit back and stare in awe."
35 years after Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Blade Runner, the modern great Denis Villeneuve has taken on the lofty task of delivering a sequel, and he succeeds resoundingly. Not only is Blade Runner 2049 a worthwhile continuation and expansion of this universe, but it's also an astonishingly-realized dystopian epic in its own right.
We follow our Blade Runner (played by a stone-faced Ryan Gosling) through a stark world of creation and destruction, manufactured memories, and where holograms bleed into reality, as he tracks down information about a peculiar replicant. Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, and Harrison Ford (reprising his original role) round out the cast of key players.
Like its main protagonist, this film has the sheer confidence and cool patience to move at its own pace—to do things its own way—and it still manages to command attention. Much is due to the stunning imagery, from the deeply imaginative set designs to the techno-futurist visual effects. Master cinematographer Roger Deakins renders breathtaking frame after breathtaking frame. The picture is so sublime and provocative that you just have to sit back and stare in awe. The soundscape is hypnotic too as Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer's reverberating post-Yeezus score practically sends waves into your head and swallows you whole.
I understand that some audiences might have hoped for more action sequences and a shorter runtime (the film clocks in at 163 minutes), but personally, I found the pure artfulness, innovation, and neo-noir vibes of it all to be mesmerizing. Such an atmospheric and desolate story could've risked being emotionally numb, but as Villeneuve proved with last year's excellent Arrival, he's about more than just hollow spectacle. For as much as Blade Runner 2049 explores a bleak vision of society in disarray, it also keeps a sentimental fingerprint on a fruitful world that once was.