Blade Runner 2049 is about K, a replicant tasked with hunting other replicants. The case he is given sets him on a road which brings his own past into question as well as raising an old case involving Deckard.
Back in 1982, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was released. Blade Runner created a wonderfully realised future environment which hosted a rather confusingly told sci-fi tale based on a Philip K Dick story. It subsequently appeared that Scott’s film had been subject to studio interference, and has subsequently been released in 7 (count ‘em!) different re-edited versions. A classic, cult favourite.
This sequel, 35 years later, is produced by Scott, directed by Denis Villeneuve, and co-written, as was the original, by Hampton Fancher. It tells K’s story, his personal voyage of self-discovery. But it is also a direct sequel to the earlier film. Harrison Ford reprises Deckard, and Edward James Olmos cameos as Deckard’s origami-practising ex-partner. I liked the continuity with the previous film.
Like Scott’s earlier film, the futuristic world here is visually impressive. It is marred only by a tendency for things to be dark, dim, and obscured. OK, I understand that the world is mucky and polluted, but I would have liked to have seen it a bit better. Captions and titles are presented in a font which fails to stand out. They colour match the background and the letters are very small. Half the time I couldn’t read them. The 3D presentation adds nothing.
Vangelis won an Oscar for his futuristic score in the original. The score here, by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is not so much futuristic as teeth-rattlingly loud, and abrasively hostile. It is discordant and intrusive, one of the most unpleasant scores I have encountered in recent years.
My biggest disappointment, and criticism, is the storytelling. The story is not complicated, although it helps if you have seen the 1982 film recently. But it is not told clearly. I found that while I was watching a scene I didn’t always follow how it connected with what had gone before. It wasn’t until I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia that everything made sense. To me, that is not good storytelling.
Finally, at 2 hours and 45 minutes, the film is massively and unnecessarily overlong. For instance, K’s holographic girlfriend Joi, played by the gorgeous Ana de Armas, is completely irrelevant to the story other than as a soundboard for plot explanation. K’s Ron Wesley, if you will. She could and should have been cut, saving 15 minutes and speeding the film up accordingly.
A critique of a film is ultimately only one person’s opinion, and I should point out that there are those who are calling Blade Runner 2049 a masterpiece. I’m afraid I’m not one of them, and I don’t recommend it.