“Blade Runner 2049” Reminds Us That Storytelling & Sci-Fi Are Still Alive!!!
By Scott Kurland
Film: Blade Runner 2049
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Sylvia Hoeks, and Jared Leto
Director: Denis Villeneuve
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
” – Roy Batty “Blade Runner” (1982)
Rutger Hauer’s improvised monologue from “Blade Runner” is one of the most iconic lines of dialog in nerd culture. I find myself saying it all the time….minus the time to die part. It's a monologue that is existential, depressing, and cool. Everything about the original “Blade Runner” is cool. The idea of taking science fiction and blending it with both Japanese and film noir culture was a stroke of genius on Ridley Scott's part. Surprisingly, the film tanked at the box office, but the re-release of the various cuts helped this detective story find a cult following. It’s so popular that you can buy replica's of Harrison Ford’s gun at comic con. This week’s film is indeed’s Denis Villenuve’s “Blade Runner 2049.” Can this visionary director put his masterful storytelling skills to the task that is “Blade Runner?” Let’s find out shall we?
“Blade Runner 2049” takes place 30 years after the events of the first film. Replicants have now become self-aware and they understand that their sole purpose is to exist as slaves. Several replicants (the nexus 8 model) have gone off the grid and must be “retired;” that’s where Agent K (Ryan Gosling) comes into play. K is a Blade Runner tasked with finding these rogue replicants, but one such job leads him to uncover a conspiracy he wasn’t ready to undertake. Now K must race against time to solve this mystery before the new replicant creators, also known as the Wallace corporation, (Jared Leto & Sylvia Hoeks) can fulfill their ultimate goal; a goal with far-reaching consequences.
I love Denis Villenuve. I think he’s one of the best storytellers and directors working today. He knows the art of the slow burn and executes it like a well trained concert pianist. Every moment of his films serves a purpose and its for this reason that his films are so long. Even so, they never drag or feel like they’ve over stayed their welcome. “Blade Runner 2049” might be his longest film, though certainly one of the best he’s made yet. To me, Villenuve is on the same level as Stanley Kubrick or Robert Altman because he knows how to take his time. The main story and twist of the film would fail in the hands of any other director as they’d rush to get to the meat and potatoes. Denis on the other hand, knows you need starters and a salad to make the meal pay off. That’s what “Blade Runner 2049” is- a satisfying meal. Hans Zimmer’s score is served as the appetizer. Hampton Fancher & Michael Green’s script is the salad. The performances of Gosling and Ford are the main course and, lastly, Roger Deakins’ delicious cinematography is the dessert.
I have been singing Gosling’s praises for years. I still feel he was robbed of the Oscar for “Half Nelson.” As K, Gosling proves to be the perfect successor for Harrison Ford. He’s just the right amount of grizzled and tortured to head down this dystopic rabbit hole. What is truly great about Gosling is how much he can convey in a simple eyebrow raise or head nod. That’s perfect because that’s exactly the type of actor you need to play a self-aware replicant. In my opinion, Gosling was the only one who could play this role. He brought the empathy that the film needed. He also conveyed the underlying theme of love vs. lust though I won’t go any further into that because I’ll spoil a huge plot point.
“Blade Runner 2049” is not doing well in the box office because of the almost three hour run-time which is absurd, because this film flew by. If I’m being perfectly frank, I never wanted it to end. Whether it was Villenuve’s vision, Deakins’ breathtaking cinematography, or the incredible performances from the cast, this film soars high. See this movie. Find the biggest, loudest theater you can and just watch in awe knowing that this is filmmaking at its best.
REVIEW RATING: A+