Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Dave Bautista, Hiam Abbass, Mackenzie Davis, Edward James Olmos, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi, Wood Harris
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve
Plot: Denis has requested that critics try and not spoil the movie, so this is a very generic plot line for a very complex film. A Los Angeles cop/Blade Runner (Gosling) is tasked with tracking down replicants. On a standard mission, he uncovers a dark secret and sets out to find answers.
What Works: Again, without giving away the plot, the masterfully crafted story here is one of the many things that works well. I loved how the trailers actually don’t give anything away, and you’re walking in fresh to a brilliant film. Ford is not a co-lead though. That part is a lie. This film is mostly Gosling, and I’d argue that Ana De Armas has more screentime than Ford. She’s also (FINALLY) really good in this. I haven’t liked some of her past works, but she’s really good here and her character is the most interesting in the whole film. The cast is great across the board, with Gosling being terrific and Ford allowing a ton of vulnerability and age in his role. He’s broken, clearly, with nowhere to turn anymore. It’s his best work in years (even better than his brief stint in The Force Awakens). You have to see this in theatres. It’s a visual masterpiece. Just a giant orgasm for your eyes. Cinematographer Roger Deakens does some amazing camera work here that deserves the highest praise. The score is also one of the best of the year. This film is just a hair shy of being a game changing masterpiece. Denis really is one of the finest directors working today.
What Doesn’t Work: I believe there is a true masterpiece cut of this film that’s about 5-10 minutes shorter, just tightening up the scenes a bit. This film is 2:40, and feels 3:00. Somewhere in the middle the film gets truly bogged down and I started to feel the runtime. I know it was in the second hour of the film, because when I first “checked the time” it was already an hour in. So, I had no problem with the first hour, and the last 45 minutes are pretty solid too. It’s mainly the middle of the film that could use a trim.
Final Word: I have seen the original Blade Runner, though I’m not sure which cut, and it’s been at least 10+ years. Still, I was able to fully appreciate this film. I think even if you haven’t seen Blade Runner, you’ll enjoy Blade Runner 2049. It’s really a fantastic film on so many levels, and just a tad shy of being a masterclass in filmmaking.
Final Grade: A-