It may seem a little premature to consider Blade Runner 2049 a cult movie, but look at its box office performance. Much like Ridley Scott’s original classic (although many forget that it was the theatrical cut, and not Scott’s later versions that lost all the money), Blade Runner 2049 looks like it’s going to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps as a brilliant failure. Except that 2049 is going to be an even bigger flop due to its blockbuster budget. In a sense, this perfectly encapsulates the pinitol differences between the first film and its sequel. 2049 is a bigger failure because it has much bigger ambitions.
The film stars Ryan Gosling as K, a Blade Runner that hunts the last band of Replicants designed by the Tyrell Corporation. After “retiring” one of these replicants, in a stunning noir-tinged opening (the words pot boiler come to mind), K makes a startling discovery that could have huge consequences for this dystopian world. That’s all I’m willing to tell you about the plot as 2049 is a film that benefits from a general lack of info.
What I can tell you is that Blade Runner 2049 improves on Ridley Scott’s original in many ways. Incoming director Dennis Villeneuve, who helmed last year’s Arrival, is one of the only directors that can match (and sometimes exceed), Scott’s talent for world-building. The world itself is mesmerising, as the introduction to Los Angeles 30 years after the original is treated as K descending into a neon-lit hell. The performances are universally strong: Gosling has somehow added more layers to his introverted cool (he also gets the shit regularly beaten out of him which, as every Gosling fan knows, is a way to measure the quality of his filmography), Harrison Ford is utterly magnetic as the returning Deckard. The real stand-out is Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, the henchwoman of Jared Leto’s Nander Wallace. Hoeks is so utterly terrifying, yet still completely sympathetic as a character that is basically the anti-Roy Batty.