This movie is a grandiose spectacle. I want to pay special attention to how awe-struck I was by the visual storytelling. It’s not just that the effects are top-notch; there’s a great deal in the background which amplifies the story and the world of the film. This is truly terrific in scope and execution. From subtle hints at a futuristic equivalent to racism, to several intriguing implications regarding unseen events or ideas, Blade Runner 2049’s aesthetic is imperative for its delivery. It also features many striking shots, especially with overhead views of vast cities and deserts. Truly, Blade Runner 2049 is beautiful to gaze upon.
Understand that, as a reviewer with focus on quality of substance over presentation, I’d say this doesn’t make or break any film on its own. The visuals are incredible and noteworthy because they elevate the rest of the film, and support the excellent writing. There are nods to the first film, yet they are scarce enough that I suppose it’s not necessary to be familiar with it.
On that note, the course of events in this film is compelling; do not believe anyone who tells you this is a boring film. Rather, I suppose it could be boring for viewers with no interest in mystery or actual plot. Perhaps Zack Snyder enthusiasts should stay away from this one. I digress; there’s a chain of events in this film, following the protagonist K and his interpretation of everything around him. In that sense, this isn’t an action film, and the science fiction environment is arguably a backdrop or perhaps simply a circumstance of this complex character study. I won’t divulge any further details here, as this is a story one ought to experience fully without being spoiled in the slightest. I don’t say that lightly, as I think most films won’t be brought down with some ancillary information. This is probably my most vague review yet, and for good reason.
Ryan Gosling is a gem in this film. I’d say all of the actors perform wonderfully, yet Gosling stands out in particular. There are a few scenes in which his character, K, has an incredible revelation, which also serves as a clever twist for the audience. Instead of a stereotypical swell of sounds to indicate something significant (which I find common for even the best film twists), in one such scene, the movie becomes silent as K comes to an understanding and exhibits an intense emotional reaction. It’s not over-the-top or unbelievable, either. He’s reacting the way the audience might in such a situation. That’s what makes his performance so magnificent. Also, Ana de Armas deserves a mention, as I’ve never seen her act before, and she’s a stellar opposite to Gosling’s K, bringing levity and a bit of bleakness to the world, while bringing back memories of Her, which is another fantastic film.
Finally, the music in this film is a strange mix of techno and classical pieces which blend in juxtaposition in such a way that I would have trouble believing it had I not witnessed this myself. This isn’t a knock on techno music by any means, yet I realize that I’m accustomed to having a blaring techno track pounding a viewer’s ears while guns fire and things explode and stuff happens all over the screen. That is, Blade Runner 2049’s soundtrack utilizes a quiet and brooding tone while eliciting awe and wonder, complimenting the visuals amazingly. This is the best score in a film this year, so far. It’s impossible to overstate its effect.
This is a Salient film. That’s where it must be placed. I could gripe about a sudden and open ending, or the strange and sparse use of Jared Leto’s character, yet I was so riveted by the film that it can’t be brought down very much. Everyone who wants to see movies with excellent stories and ideas should quickly see this on a theater screen.