Spotlight Columns

Buttered and Salty: Blade Runner 2049

By From page B2 | October 11, 2017

Blade Runner 2049
*  *  *  1/2

R, 2 h 43 min – Sci-fi, Thriller 

“Blade Runner 2049,” like its predecessor, is about what it means to be human. Unlike the original “Blade Runner” (1982), the advent of social media, advanced artificial intelligence, virtual reality, operating systems that feed us information and self-driving cars have made this film very much an allegory for our times.

In this fall’s most anticipated release, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

This is a film with a lot of surprises and secrets, so I will tread lightly. I knew next to nothing about the story going in, which is a compliment to the studio and the filmmakers. The film stands tall next to the original yet finds ways to feel fresh. It’s an impressive trick director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) has pulled off. I couldn’t take my eyes off the world we first saw in 1982 that has been greatly expanded upon.

One aspect of the film you are going to hear a lot about is the cinematography of Roger Deakins (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “No Country For Old Men,” “A Beautiful Mind”). This is one of the most beautiful looking films I have ever seen. Mr. Deakins’ use of shapes, reflections and shadows are works of art here. How he has never won an Academy Award (he’s been nominated 13 times) is beyond me. He will win one this year.

Franchise-film legend Harrison Ford resurrects former officer Rick Deckard, 30 years after the events of the last film. Where he’s been and why he’s disappeared, I ain’t sayin’. What I will say is that the film seems to lose a little bit of momentum when Ford arrives. He’s fine in the role and has some great interaction with Gosling and Jared Leto’s corporate eccentric Niander Wallace character, but his presence feels almost like legacy casting here and is a bit of a distraction in certain parts. The end justifies the means with his Deckard character, but it would have made more sense to either have him in more of the film or not at all. Still, it was good seeing that character after all these years and the main story very much revolves around character choices set up in the previous movie.

In the first act of the film, Robin Wright’s Lt. Joshi character declares, “We’re all just looking out for something that’s real.” As the future blurs the line between a real and fabricated society, we all are. Highly recommended!

Joshua B. Porter is a writer/director/producer. The most recent film he produced, “August Falls”, is currently available on Amazon Prime as well as other streaming services. He can be reached at @joshuabporter or [email protected]

Joshua Porter

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