Some films become such classics that they are staples in the history of film. ‘Blade Runner’ was one of those films. It was such a striking mixture of realistic futurism and classic noir detective stories that it took audiences by surprise. Over time it has become one of the most beloved science fiction films of all time. The most classic of cult classics.
It’s also a film that holds a special place in my heart. My father was exuberant the first time he showed it to me. And this was a man that did not share much when I was a kid, but this movie was special. I didn’t really understand it at the time. It’s nuance escaped me. Yet, I was captured by its majesty and raw beauty. It also helped me understand why my father would say “home again, home again, jiggitty, jig” every time we pulled into the garage.
So, the long gestating sequel had a lot to live up to in my eyes. This film was following in the footsteps of a cornerstone in American cinema for me. Well, I can’t profess to be certain yet, but this might be the father sequel that is more classic than the classic. The film is an unqualified and unstoppable masterwork of a director who is at the very top of his game. A film that matches its predecessors majesty with precision and ups the ante with the kind of wondrous imaging you can only get from the best science fiction.
This film is so beautiful that it will render your dreams for the days following its viewing. You will close your eyes and imagine the lights and sounds of every set design you were introduced to. Your sense of sound will be enhanced to the point where you will look at places you’ve seen a thousand times and find yourself feeling them for the first time. That’s what really hearing a place come alive for the first time can do.
From the very opening moments of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ you will be glued to the landscape and sound. From the brilliant moment you are introduced to Ryan Gosling’s Blade Runner you will be completely glued to his every movement. This movie takes the feel and look of a noir detective story to a new level. Every set breathes with life and Roger Deakins brilliant lighting captures it all with stellar quality. You will remember this movie as much for the time it spends to introduce you to each setting as you will for its beautiful meditation on humanity.
The mystery of this films plot is a mystery I’m not allowed to unravel, but I can tell you that the examination of the soul that layered the subtext of the original is as thoroughly examined here as anyone has done before. You may actual walk out of this film with a different concept of humanity than you did before you walked in. It’s that dense in its examination of what makes its characters tick, what makes a machine different than a human being, and why we search for the reasoning behind our existence. It’s also a film that you might think you know where it’s going, but you truly do not.
Every performance is uniformly outstanding. Harrison Ford is wonderfully subtle. Gosling lets you peer through the eyes of someone wondering about the reasons for existence. Ana De Armas is so captivating that she might actually help you understand the reason for existence. Jared Leto gets so deep under your skin that you might find yourself picking parts of him out after it’s over. And Sylvia Hoeks is a revelation as the angry Luv that will do anything to prove she is the best.
However, the biggest star of this movie is director Denis Villeneuve. After a trio of great American films (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival), it was clear to me last year that this man was one of the most talented new filmmakers of the last decade. This film is such a stunning piece of work that it officially cements him as one of the finest directors alive today! They don’t get much better than this man.
At the end of this film you might find yourself disappointed with the fact that things didn’t necessarily go the way you wanted. You also might be disappointed that the film is over when you wanted so much more (even at 163 minutes it is not long enough). Yet, after you sit there for a moment and let it wash over you like Rutger did in the final moments of the original. You will find that it ends in the perfect moment. That the conclusion is the most beautiful way it could have closed. And that you are a little bit more alive for having sat through it. There is absolutely no higher praise I can give than that.
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