It’s been 35 years since Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” debuted, going from commercial disappointment to cult following to sci-fi classic.
Now it’s regarded as one of the most visually influential films of all time. The question that needs to be answered is does the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” do the original justice?
Not only does this sequel live up to the hype, but in many ways, it far surpasses it. Director Denis Villeneuve of “Sicario” and “Arrival” fame has delivered a film that honors and embraces the original, but also has taken it into a new cinematic era. This is a sequel that remains just as complex and ambitious as its beloved predecessor.
Villeneuve has been very much hush-hush on the plot and for good reason. I’m going to be the same way. First, let’s establish the obvious. Harrison Ford does return as Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner living in a self-imposed isolation for the last 30 years until Ryan Gosling’s K, a new Blade Runner, seeks his help uncovering an elaborate conspiracy.
Jared Leto costars as Niander Wallace, a Replicant manufacturer, who has information on the conspiracy. He believes that his own involvement may lead to something greater in the field of creating strong Replicants. Leto doesn’t have many scenes, but he does take advantage of the screen time he’s allowed. That’s about as far as I’m going with a summary of the plot. No more questions.
We all know the 1982 original is known for a striking sense of originality and the sequel is no exception. From the use of color and elaborate tracking shots, cinematographer Roger Deakins, who’s been nominated a record-breaking 13 times for an Oscar, helps craft an immaculate, meticulous vision and is sure to garner his first.
Gosling and Ford give strong, compelling work throughout. They have a fight scene upon their introduction and at 75, Ford proves he’s still got some muscle left in him.
One last thing regarding the visuals: This movie is nothing short of sensational to see in IMAX. In fact, it is more than recommended. It is required. To see this exhilarating, visionary sequel in any other format other than IMAX is to sell your wallet short.
“Blade Runner 2049” reminds us why we love going to the movies. It give us a story that resonates, challenges and engages us, features outstanding performances from its remarkable cast, and of course, unforgettable images. At 164 minutes, it does a lot of things, but bore and/or disappoint is not one of them.
Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.