Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner feels sacred to me. Before I could read, Scott’s film taught me how to love storytelling. So it’s no surprise that Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up Blade Runner 2049 fails to impress. The latter has to be considered among the slowest, weirdest, lifeless and most self-indulgent genre entries in fifty years. Whatever I said or wrote about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the makers are forgiven.
Casting Ryan Gosling was their first mistake. Although I enjoyed his performance as the romantic lead in The Notebook, Villeneuve only requires that he behave robotically. Just because K (Gosling) happens to be a replicant doesn’t mean he has to perform as a vegetable. Consider the vibrant portrayals in Scott’s film. For example, Brion James proved menacing, charming and larger than life. As such, my operating system carries greater emotional resonance than Gosling. At least when it accidentally crashes there’s a noise.
Little effort required in summarising the plot as the bare bones would hardly justify a short story. While Blade Runner 2049 does employ Hampton Fancher, a writer from the first production, he appears off his game here. Somewhere along the line, Fancher developed a tin ear for dialogue.
Where Scott’s Blade Runner looked beautiful and contained themes such as empowerment, fate, slavery, overpopulation, cloning and technological supremacy, the sequel doesn’t make a ripple. At its strangest, the narrative dwells on an extended three-way love scene. It’s emblematic of editor Joe Walker’s pacing… just a few steps behind slow motion. (Capsule review)
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "R" for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.)
For more information about Blade Runner 2049, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.