A bleak dystopian monster of a movie like “Blade Runner 2049” is sure to please both fans of the original and fans of the science fiction genre. While for some it may seem to be a daunting task to sit in a theater for two hours and 43 minutes, nearly every scene is a visual delight and captivating exposition. Similar to HBO’s “Westworld,” it questions the importance of human and not-so-human life within its own world. It may just be the most valuable $12 you spend in the theater this year.
The story is set in the year of which the movie is named, and the world has turned to a cyberpunk city-mass. The Wallace Corporation has captured the monopoly on synthetic “humans” called Replicants by upgrading the unreliable Nexus 6 model to the more obedient Nexus 8. Enter Officer “K” played by Ryan Gosling, a Nexus 8 whose role is to hunt down and “retire” the old models, a profession known as a Blade Runner. While performing these duties, he discovers the possibility of a child birthed from a Replicant. His mission then becomes the identification and retirement of the child.
The cast all perform their roles well, with even the smaller characters feeling fleshed out and deserving of the screen time they receive, if not more. Gosling always seems to fit well into grittier settings, and the exponential magnitude of his emotions throughout the film are greatly convincing. Harrison Ford unfortunately takes a bit of a backseat in the film, really only present as the token of past events. His experience and expertise in the industry is not completely wasted as he plays a broken man left to dwell on the love he once had. Lesser known actress Ana de Armas fulfills the role of K’s virtual girlfriend exceptionally well. Her character ironically feels to be one of the most human.
Worth exceptional merit is the score, for which Hans Zimmer again shows his marvelous musical talent. The music employs blaring buzzes and low booms that merge the tone of the original film with its own darker feel. Much of it is asynchronous and chaotic, allowing a build on melancholy even in transitional scenes. Also quite interesting is that most action scenes are devoid of music, letting the tension of the fights speak for themselves. One scene in particular builds tension with immensely loud cut outs of Elvis Presley mixed with absolute silence, and it is golden.
“Blade Runner 2049,” despite its exceptional quality, has fallen through in the box office, opening on $31.5 million while the movie budgeted $150 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics averaged an 88 percent, while audience score fell only slightly behind at 83 percent. It’s definitely not a feel-good movie, but “Blade Runner 2049” deserves your attention.