“Blade Runner 2049”: See it Before it Retires
by Ethan Lim
The sequel to the iconic 1982 film, “Blade Runner,” follows its predecessor 35 years later by showcasing impressive visuals, acting, and an emotion-filled score that will surely push “Blade Runner 2049” to be one of the top films of 2017. Its all-star cast includes Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, and Jared Leto. The story takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles, specifically year 2049. K (Gosling), is a replicant (an android created by the Wallace Corporation) that works as a blade runner hunting down older rogue models made by the Tyrell Corporation (makers of replicants in the original movie). However, during a mission to hunt down a replicant, K stumbles across clues that lead him to investigate a mystery that tests his morality along with his life. The director of the original “Blade Runner,” Ridley Scott, returns as a producer to oversee the continuation of his work. However, the sequel really belongs to Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. His unique directing style is felt within the film, and it is clear that Villeneuve has tried to input his own artistic spin on the franchise.
The movie is filled with stunning visuals, ranging from the Los Angeles metropolis to deserted, sand-storm-plagued Las Vegas. A beautiful mix of CGI and real props make for memorable scenes that really draw the viewer's attention. Villeneuve does an outstanding job of making every scene pertinent to the storyline, with his distinctive directing techniques that were also used in his other critically acclaimed movies “Arrival” and “Sicario.” Villeneuve is known for long, drawn-out scenes that either help build suspense or provide as much detail as possible through visuals, without unnecessary exposition.
Accompanying the fantastic visuals, great acting propels the plot, while effectively conveying emotion to the audience. Gosling plays the protagonist K with sentiment that brings his character to life. Although Gosling plays an android in a sci-fi film, he makes his character feel real and humanistic. While discovering the secrets behind replicants that the Wallace Corporation wants to conceal from the public, the audience is able to empathize with the whirlwind of feelings Gosling portrays, based on his findings throughout the film. Gosling’s counterpart, Sylvia Hoeks, plays a villainous replicant (Luv) serving the Wallace Corporation, who is trying to stop K on his quest. Hoeks not only terrifies the people she encounters in the movie, but the viewers as well. Her character is ruthless and obedient to her creator, Wallace (Leto), as she is determined to prevent K from finding the truth. Her stunning performance screams terror, and although she may not be the best known actor in “Blade Runner 2049,” she acts with experience. Harrison Ford returns as an older version of Deckard (the protagonist in the first “Blade Runner”), which connects the two films together. His performance brought back nostalgia for the original film, while adding to the new developing plot. Although his performance was not the most striking, Ford’s reputation precedes him, and his mere presence raises the esteem of the movie. While these actors had a pivotal impact on the storyline, the whole cast contributes to the captivating plot, and makes the 2 hour and 43 minute run time feel much shorter than it actually is.
Hans Zimmer masterfully composes a score that amplifies the action in every scene. Zimmer has gained wide recognition for his compositions in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and “Inception.” He again composes a compelling masterpiece that riffs on the electric score from the original “Blade Runner.” Zimmer’s music magnifies the various moods that make up pivotal scenes throughout the film. As K valiantly battles Luv in multiple portions of the film, it is the music that heightens the emotions that fill each individual fight. Without Zimmer’s expertise, the film would lack a key element that makes “Blade Runner 2049” the exceptional film it is.
Villeneuve’s creation is one of the most exciting films to hit theatres this fall. Moviegoers may be discouraged to buy tickets because of the 2 hour 44 minute run time or general unfamiliarity with the franchise. Still, this film is one to remember and does not require viewing the original 1982 film beforehand (although it does add to the experience). See it now before it is too late.