By Colin Froment – News Editor
The original “Blade Runner” that was released 1982 introduced audiences to a visually spectacular world populated with killer androids. More than 30 years later, this world still manages to deliver satisfying action in the form of Blade Runner 2049 in an entirely updated version to amaze a different generation of audience members. Thanks to its engaging storyline with dazzling visuals to accompany it, the new Blade Runner proves that every one-time classic has the potential for a little technology upgrade for a refreshing experience.
Like the original, “Blade Runner 2049” is set in an advanced future where androids are programmed to look and act the same as humans, known as replicants. A replicant named K, a newcomer to the series portrayed by Ryan Gosling, is assigned to hunt down old versions of replicants that have gone into hiding over the years. When he discovers these replicants have the ability to reproduce, he embarks on a dangerous adventure to find the replicant child before a sinister corporation does.
This premise forms into a well-thought out story with every possible scenario happening at once on the screen. Numerous threats and possibilities emerge with higher risks as the story unfolds, with the tension increasing as each minute passes. Each of the characters involved have their own personal ambitions for the android child, which clash with each other and provides the film with enough interesting conflicts without feeling too overstuffed. Every plot point transitions smoothly, and it becomes gradually easier to follow whether one remembers the original dusty VHS tape or not. It also displays a powerful message about humanity, when several of the replicants, including K, discover how even the most socially inept can find their place among society with others. The overall hunt for innocent androids challenges the ethics of how legal decisions end up overpowering moral ones, bringing up whether or not humanity deserves to be protected or replaced.
The modern visual effects push action blockbusters to outshine others, and this film is certainly no different. The visuals in this flick are some of the most advanced seen in any recent science fiction experience. Every aspect of the film is a colorful masterpiece that never fails to capture attention at any scene. The most imaginative ideas are shown where an average person would never even expect could happen, or believe would be possible outside of the human mind. There are plenty of surprises contained to keep ones’ eyes gazing at the screen for as long as possible.
While it’s always a joy to see Harrison Ford return to form and still managing to deliver knockout punches, new characters bring new life to the overall series. Gosling shines in one of his most impressive roles yet as a hunter scared of his own identity. His performance focuses on how serious of a struggle it is to blend into societies without conforming, something that perfecting blends into the film’s story. Jared Leto is great as the cunning and mysterious head of the Wallace Corporation. Leto’s character is one of the most sinister villains seen in recent years, but is unfortunately underwhelming, and definitely capable of more screen time, a trope that has unfortunately plagued Leto since his small performance as the Joker in last year’s “Suicide Squad”.
As impressive as the film is, its biggest flaw is the heavy amount of exposition that drags the beginning down to a less exciting level. The first hour catches everyone up to speed with dialogue about the first Blade Runner. It is tedious, but necessary to enjoy to rest of the movie. It does give a lot of information so new audiences have a clearer understanding of the Blade Runner timeline, but it feels as though there is a simpler method to pull this off without turning what should be an entirely exhilarating thriller into a project that may require a second viewing to fully immerse in.
The Blade Runner series still manages to cross the finish line with Blade Runner 2049 after decades of sitting on the sidelines, despite a rocky start. It raises the bar on awe-inspiring visual effects that do not take away too much attention from its carefully constructed storyline. It’s a film that exceptionally demonstrates the values of humanity while still being entertaining to keep the spirit of Blade Runner alive for a different generation.