<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Ana de Armas, Carla Juri, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Harrison Ford
Running time: 2 hours 46 minutes!!
Before the start of this press show, one of the PR execs relayed a message from the director to us asking the good folks not to reveal any plot points. That’s easy enough considering I didn’t see much of a plot in the film anyway.
Blade Runner 2049 (a sequel and not a remake to the original that was over 30 years ago) has been described as ‘visually staggering’ and ‘a visual masterpiece’ by several publications. Sure it does dystopian future a lot better than the blah movie Ghost in the Shell (not the cartoon). But I’ve seen better.
The slow pace of this movie seems paradoxical with the title ‘Blade Runner’ as it takes a languid look at the future when ‘Replicants’ are used to do the dirty work on Earth as humanity settles down in luxury off-world (never shown). At first it does build up suspense, but very quickly you’re left with the sense that it’s just the way the whole movie is going to be. More like an effect to showcase lovely shots of snowflakes falling or great vistas of orange desert. Two hours and forty-six minutes is a lot of time.
I still can’t condense for you what the story is about apart from some attempts to show how AI could evolve and why humanity should never create a slave race of computers or robots to do our bidding. It may not turn out too well. They may develop a soul! There’s nothing particularly original about this premise.
Harrison Ford shows up in the last 46 minutes since we all know he’s pretty much done with acting. For most of the movie Ryan Gosling, as agent K, does his usual strong, deadpan performance with those soulful eyes of his. There are plenty of attempts to build up suspense to a twist but long before the reveal we’ve figured out the surprise and are simply waiting for it to get done with.
There’s one extremely uncomfortable and awkward scene with the two female love interests – Sylvia Hoeks and Mackenzie Davis – both ‘merge’ to make love to the lonely agent K. It’s messy and laugh-inducing.
Only Dave Bautista’s performance really stands out for the strength and emotion that he packs into his brief scene.
Blade Runner 2049 is yet another sequel, albeit a better attempt, that shows us that we should leave the classics well alone. We just don’t know how to make them the way they used to.