Blade Runner 2049 Review
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It’s been 35 years since director Ridley Scott’s beloved and widely-debated sci-fi thriller Blade Runner was released in theaters. Now, after years of waiting and speculation—and a whole lot of secrecy—Scott passes the reins to the capable hands of Oscar nominated director Denis Villeneuve, whose long-awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is sure to satisfy fans of all versions of the original.

Blade Runner 2049 is set 30 years after the original, in the Los Angeles of the future, where LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling) works as a blade runner, tasked with tracking early forms of engineered humans, called replicants, and “retiring” them. During one mission, K uncovers a long-buried secret that could change everything—and it sends him on a search for answers. But he’s closely followed on his mission by Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), the trusted assistant of billionaire Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who wants to use the answers for his own selfish purposes.

Often, when it takes more than a few years for a sequel to hit theaters, the result is something that only a true fan can love. But that’s not the case for Blade Runner 2049. That’s not to say that fans won’t love it; fans will relish every moment, most likely analyzing each scene and each line of dialogue in the process. But this isn’t just a fan’s movie. Even if you’ve never seen the original—or if it’s been so long that you don’t even remember it—you’ll be able to enjoy the sequel as a standalone adventure.

The story—while clearly connected to original—is intriguing in its own right, following a police investigation that illustrates the replicants’ desperate pursuit of humanity. It feels like a classic hardboiled detective story set decades in the future. Though it poses plenty of nagging questions, that’s nothing new for the franchise—and all of the pieces generally come together in a satisfying way in the end.

Beyond the story, though, Villeneuve’s Blade Runner is also a striking work of cinematic art. The settings are stormy and bleak, combining the arresting futuristic touches of the city with the hauntingly desolate atmosphere of the outlying areas (which, for the most part, are either deserted or used as massive dumps). And the dark and disorienting atmosphere of the film is enhanced by Gosling’s stone-faced performance and Hans Zimmer’s heavy and sometimes even off-putting score. Admittedly, some of these striking moments drag out longer than necessary for artistic effect. And, for that reason, it certainly feels like a 163-minute movie. But it’s 163 minutes of layered story and stunning cinematography.

For those who have been waiting 35 years for another Blade Runner movie, Blade Runner 2049 won’t disappoint. And if you’re new to the franchise, it’ll inspire you to seek out the original. It’s definitely a long movie—but it’s worth investing a few hours of your time.

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