Blade Runner 2049 is that film that comes once in a lifetime. It will lay the fertile groundwork for a bounty of young aspiring filmmakers and artists, and those that know not of what they will eventually create. The film forgoes the relentless tinkering of Ridley Scott from the original film and constructs itself in a way that is challenging, daring, and fundamentally organic.
The film is a visual marvel. From Roger Deakins’ flawless cinematography to Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s heart-stopping score to the beautiful showboat of performances from the cast, in particular, Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Ryan Gosling has become a cinematic benchmark unto himself, he has carefully selected roles that have propelled him to his generation’s finest of actors. He has rapidly set himself on the same tier as Peter O’Toole, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Marlon Brando.
Harrison Ford not only gives the performance of his career but the performance of a lifetime, reinventing such a seminal character into something that is monumentally larger than whatever twist or thirty-five-year debate wages on about the identity of his character. None of that matters. It’s not important. What’s important is how BLADE RUNNER 2049 will forever change the trajectory of cinema.
The film poses questions. The human condition, our inevitable encounter with artificial intelligence, and can humans actually be humane. The latter of those questions is the joy of a viewer’s interpretation of what the film is trying to say. There will be those who go against and with the grain. Those who will call this film a masterpiece even before they see it; before they have had time to let the film digest. There are those that will complain about the near three-hour runtime; how the slow and methodical pacing goes nowhere fast. And that poses an important question.
What were you expecting?
The film is so grand that the viewer’s expectations rapidly become a moot point. The film is an awakening. It is spiritual and it contains its own scientific method. It is a beautiful fever dream that poses a parallel to what our tangible reality could eventually become; if we haven’t passed that point of no return already.
Denis Villeneuve took a brand that what was once a cult film that became a phenomenon and turned it into next level filmmaking. There has been nothing like this film before, and that includes the five cuts of the original. Sure, there are some slight callback fan services in lieu of cameos and motifs, but those are quickly forgotten within the visually stunning and shadow of an ax narrative that looms on screen.
Blade Runner 2049 may be the lynchpin of modern cinema. It could either save it from the continuous big budget failures and the overly conventional and politically correct films that are being assembled, boxed, stamped, and shipped to our local theatre, or completely break cinema as we know it in half. The film is that important and that immeasurable.
Review by Frank Mengarelli