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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Blade Runner 2049" an impressive, yet slow burn

Oct 05, 2017 06:04PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049 - © 2017 Sony/Columbia.

Blade Runner 2049 (Sony/Columbia)

Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.

Starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, Barkhad Abdi, David Dastmalchian, Hiam Abbass, Wood Harris, Tómas Lemarquis, Mark Arnold.

Written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve.



What is real? These days, the line between things artificial and things actual is becoming more and more blurred. Social media offers a distorted view of reality, computer technology offers more and more “virtual” realities and artificial intelligence is lurking just around the corner, with “smart” devices ruling our lives at increasing rate. When Blade Runner was released in 1982, such issues were much closer to fantasy than reality, but with the 35-year wait for a sequel, Blade Runner 2049 is feeling a bit more real.

Ryan Gosling plays K, a “blade runner,” or police officer assigned to “retire” rogue replicants (robots) exiled sometime after the events of 2020 which took place in the original film. K is a replicant himself, one of the newer models with advanced obedience and problem-solving artificial intelligence). His commanding officer is the ruthless Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) whose methods include whitewashing any details of older model replicants rising to power. K’s assignment to retire replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) leads him to a discovery about his own implanted memories and a possible link to a rare “miracle” involving a relationship between a human and a replicant. K runs into a few snags when his investigation leads to Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), the head of the dominant replicant manufacturing firm. Wallace’s own security replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) keeps tabs on K as he gets closer to the truth. K also maintains a close relationship with Joi (Ana de Armas) whose real identity may be linked to Wallace’s firm.

Eventually, K, journey leads him to the ruins of Las Vegas, where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) lives in exile to avoid any entanglements with Wallace’s new replicant regime. Deckard also harbors a secret about the older replicants from his days as a blade runner. K must fight off Luv to get to the truth and save what’s left of the “humanity” of the old replicants.

Blade Runner 2049 is a visually stunning, mind-bending trip from the imagination of Denis Villeneuve, whose previous work includes other compelling art like Sicario, Enemy and last year’s Arrival. The special effects are impressive and visceral, making the movie much more believable than the 1982 original. Gosling’s portrayal as a very human replicant is also impressive, offering a methodical nature that bridges the gap between artificial and real. Harrison Ford’s reprisal as the original blade runner is also notable, giving his character development and a sympathetic storyline.

Villenueve requested that critics keep certain details about characters and their relationships secret, so that audiences can experience a few surprises. I’m not sure everyone will be surprised at Blade Runner 2049’s outcome, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you interested, especially if you are a fan of the original 1982 film.

Even with its upside properties, Blade Runner 2049 may not resonate with folks out for a date night. It’s a little complex and dark for the masses who prefer their Gosling and Ford as action heroes - or eye candy.

Another problematic component of Blade Runner 2049 is the lengthy running time, clocking in at just under 2 hours and 45 minutes. If you can allow yourself to get inside the deeper issues involving humanity’s relationship with artificial intelligence, you may enjoy the film.

It’s a slow burn, but it’s worth the wait.           

Blade Runner 2049 Trailer