When I heard that they were making a follow up to the sleeper classic Blade Runner, I must confess that my heart sank – how was this ever going to live up to the original? Well, despite my misgivings, I am happy to report that the film stood up very well to the standards laid down by the original.
When I saw the 164 minute running time I thought that my backside was in for a numbing time, but this was not the case: I was so engrossed with the film that time just sped by – a lesser film would have had me squirming. Now, that is not to say that 2049 is by any means a fast paced action film, not at all, pulse racing moments were few and far between, but it sucked you in – particularly if you’re a fan of the original. The devil was most definitely in the detail.
2049 is unmistakably a homage to Blade Runner: it picks up so many beats from from the original film that it’s almost a re-imagining, but at the same time it is fresh enough to keep your interest. Many of the new characters were clearly based on archetypes created in the original film: you could see elements of Pris, Leon, and Roy shining through. Many of the scenes and themes also resonated very closely with the original – particularly Roy’s ‘tears in the rain’ sequence and K’s demise. Sadly, the ending was left open ended enough for a possible, but now unlikely, sequel.
It was great to see Eddie Olmos reprising his role as Gaff and Sean Young’s return as Rachael was achieved using similar techniques used to rejuvenate Princess Leia in Rogue One, though with better effect here. One disappointing performance was that of Jared Leto as Wallace – the man is just trying too hard; I had the same criticism of him as the Joker in Suicide Squad. And I was pleased by Harrison Ford’s limited screen time, as much as I love him, it’s probably time to retire now…
2049 is a feast for the eyes and the mind: the disparity between critical praise and box office receipts illustrates this very clearly – if you’re expecting a sci-fi action film, you’re going to be disappointed. This is a great shame because, like the original, this film deserves a bigger audience. We need more visionary films like this and not just the popcorn fodder we’re being fed by the vast majority of Hollywood output. Will 2049 be appreciated more in years to come? I hope so. Will it be too late by then? I fear so.