What Does it Mean to be Human? 'Blade Runner 2049' Review
Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who directed Prisoners, Sicario, and last year’s Oscar-nominated film Arrival. The film follows Ryan Gosling’s Agent K as he goes searching for realistic A.I. known as replicants. And that is all the plot I’m going to give to you, but in reality… like the first Blade Runner… the plot is not the focus here. The focus is much beyond that… going as deep as what it means to be human.
Harrison Ford reprises his role of Rick Deckard, and unlike his previous returns to characters as in Indiana Jones 4 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ford actually shows up here. Despite being in the film only 20 or so minutes, he not only makes a significant impact but also gives his best performance in decades.
And in fact, all of the performances are strong with the biggest standouts being the two unknown actors with Ana de Armas as Joi and Sylvia Hoeks as Luv. Ana de Armas brings a lot of humanity to Ryan Gosling’s K as his love interest and Sylvia Hoeks shows range as the main antagonist of the film, with me even questioning if she is a villain at all. And these descriptions are vague for a reason; I refuse to give you anything else that I didn’t have when I saw this film. It is vital an audience member see this film as blind as possible to receive a genuine, individual reaction to the film.
The strongest attribute Blade Runner 2049 offers on a technical level is in the ways of cinematography. Roger Deakins reunites with Villeneuve on this film to mouth dropping effect. I saw this film for the first time on IMAX, and it is one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen. Every shot is composed in such a way to build the story. Deakins tells the entire story of a scene in the lighting and framing of the camera, making the dialogue almost futile.
While Deakins builds a world visually, the sound design builds a world entirely on its own. The sound gives the audience a real sense of space with the manipulation of silence and score to generate a melancholy and meditative tone. And it is where the sound and the visual comes together that is the true marvel of Blade Runner 2049.
As previously mentioned, I have seen this film twice. And this film is needed to be seen twice, because the visuals can be so emotionally overwhelming that there is a lot I missed the first viewing. In addition, I had a series of negatives the first time I saw this film; all of which were resolved the second time through.
Your friends are not wrong when they tell you that Blade Runner 2049 is a long, slow-paced movie where nothing happens. But it is in that slow, melodic pacing that neo-noir filmmakers like Dennis Villeneuve shine. Films like this allow you as an audience member to just sit and look at the world presented to you. It doesn’t force opinions on you but rather allow the audience to see for themselves and make decisions for themselves.
There is so much more I could say about this film, but time is not on my side. I give Blade Runner 2049 five out of five stars. This is the first 5/5 I have given a film in a Sneak Peek review and I mean it. All I ask is that you take the time to digest this film, because if you do… you will find the same thing the original found: what it means to be truly human in a world devoid of humanity.