Now, exactly 35 years after its release, a sequel has arrived under the name “Blade Runner 2049.” When it was first announced, critics and reviewers such as myself were not impressed with the idea. If I’ve learned anything from the many subpar sequels I’ve seen in the past, it’s that most follow ups are born to fail because the second movie is so desperate to emulate the original in the hope that it will propel the sequel into becoming a success like its predecessor. So, I anticipated “Blade Runner 2049” was going to follow that format and be a poor attempt to tell a subpar story with shoehorned themes to make it seem provocative. And it is with great shame that I must relent that this is one of those moments where not only was I completely wrong, but I’m happy I was. Because “Blade Runner 2049” is not only one of the best films of 2017, it ranks up there as one of the best sequels in Sci-Fi filmmaking.Just as the title reads, the movie takes place in 2049, exactly thirty years after events of the first “Blade Runner.” The film follows a bioengineered replicant by the name of K, played by Ryan Gosling. K works for the LAPD as part of a task force known as the Blade Runners, a special unit of officers tasked with identifying, hunting, and retiring replicants. After completing a job, K comes across the buried remains of a deceased woman. However, it’s discovered that the remains not only belonged to a female replicant, but one who perished during complications giving birth. This means a synthetic human was somehow able to produce a half-human, halfreplicant hybrid, something that was once thought impossible.
Fearful of this new discovery, K is ordered by his superiors to locate the hybrid child and eliminate it before this revelation becomes known to the public. But when the owner of replicant manufacturing Niander Wallace, played by Jared Leto, learns of this new discovery, he sends his best enforcer to locate the hybrid child for his own purpose. As K sifts through the thin trail of evidence, his findings eventually lead him to the only man who can help him, former blade runner Rick Deckard, played by returning actor Harrison Ford.
“Blade Runner 2049” does what a true sequel is supposed to do. Continue what its predecessor started and expand on the overall world and narrative. The first “Blade Runner” took us into an alternative world that was darker, but more advanced, than our own. “Blade Runner 2049” has the same feeling, except now 30 years have gone by, so even the advanced technology has advanced; which the special effects of today do a fantastic job of emulating. It feels like we’re in the same world as the first movie, just that significant time has passed.
That’s the key word here, “feel,” this feels like a true sequel. Not something that was thought up in under five minutes by some corporate suits, but something that was given the time and care needed to use what the original started and continue where it ended. And instead of handing it off to a bunch of talentless newcomers who would do it for cheap, the film was put into capable hands who gave the source material its justified treatment. The story and screenplay were written by returning writer Hampton Fancher, the screenplay writer of the original “Blade Runner.” And it put Denis Villeneuve into the directing chair, who just last year directed the highly acclaimed 2016 Sci-Fi hit: “Arrival.”
Ryan Gosling does a fantastic job as the stoic blade runner Officer K. Even when his face is completely emotionless, from just his body language and tone of voice alone, you can tell what he’s feeling, even though he can’t show it, being a replicant. It’s also a joy to see Harrison Ford return to the role of Rick Deckard, and I can assure all readers that his appearance is more than just a gratuitous cameo. Even Jared Leto deserves credit for his interpretation of the blind, but cold-hearted, Niander Wallace; all memorable performances for memorable characters. There are others I wish I could mention, but it’d be difficult to explain without delving into spoiler territory.
As far as the action scenes go, invigorating and amazing as they are to watch, this is not a typical science fiction movie. If you’re going into this expecting wall to wall action, gunfights, and space battles, then this is not the film for you. The movie has a slow pace to it with long periods of silence without dialogue or music. “Blade Runner 2049” is basically a Thriller/Mystery story, but with a Sci-Fi spin to it. If you’re looking for mindless, nonstop, Sci-Fi action, wait until the next “Star Wars” comes out. If you’re looking for a sophisticated story with mystery, suspense, and thought-provoking themes, then “Blade Runner 2049” is the adult motion picture for you.
“Blade Runner 2049” is rated R for violence, along with some language, and certain scenarios of nudity and sexuality. This movie had no reason being this good, but with a strong story, eye-catching effects, and a well put together cast placed into the capable hands of an able director, anything’s achievable. “Blade Runner 2049” surpassed my expectations and showed me that even today, it’s possible to make a sequel that does the original justice. Which is why I’m proud to declare that the final score for “Blade Runner 2049”isa9outof10.
Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.