Many think of Blade Runner as one of the most classic science fiction films of all time.  I always thought that it was pretty good.  There are sci-fi movies that I enjoy a lot more than the film but there’s plenty that are far behind it.  Who doesn’t love Harrison Ford?  The cast of Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos, and Brion James helped make Ridley Scott’s 1982 flick a very solid movie.  Blade Runner was a box office failure back in 1982 though just a few years later it was proclaimed as way ahead of its time.  I agree with this assessment.

When I heard Harrison Ford was coming back for a Blade Runner sequel, I groaned.  I hated Indiana Jones 4.  Then Ridley Scott wasn’t coming back to direct (which, after seeing Alien: Covenant, was a blessing in disguise).  Star Wars 7 was released and it wasn’t a great film – though I did enjoy Ford quite a bit.  So my stance softened a bit.  With Ford going back to some of his classic characters I considered him 1 for 2.

I am not a Ryan Gosling fan.  Not at all.  But I keep watching his movies.  I really loved The Nice Guys and while La La Land was the best movie I ever disliked I will say that Gosling was great in it.  The fact that he learned to play the piano for that movie was amazing, especially when you watch him play on-screen.

So Blade Runner 2049 has arrived.  Directed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve – a movie I thought was pretty decent until we got to the end.  This usually happens with me and what I call “smart sci-fi” like Arrival and Interstellar.  Everyone proclaims these movies genius but the plot in the third act usually makes no sense to me.  I call bullshit.  People look at me and say, “You don’t get it because blah blah blah.”  I tell them I do get it, I just find it pretentious.  I worried that I would find 2049 pretentious.  I did not.  I did not at all.

The fact of the matter is I still can’t decide if Blade Runner 2049 is one of the best sci-fi movies in the past 20, 25, or 30 years…or just the best sci-fi film of all time.  This film is brilliant.  Beyond brilliant.  From the slow burn story, to the acting, to the effects… I really fear that I won’t be able to articulate just how wonderful this flick is.  It blows the original Blade Runner away.  It blows nearly all sci-fi away.  At this point it is my favorite movie of 2017 (The Big Sick remains right behind this film).  Beyond one big plot hole – the movie is perfect.  The thing is the plot hole is completely necessary because without it there’s no movie.  It’s just way too convenient.  I’m not going to talk about the plot hole in this review though.  I’m not here to spoil a masterpiece.

The film revolves around a Blade Runner named K (Ryan Gosling).  Blade Runner’s are cops-of-sorts who hunt down Replicants AKA robots.  Well – more like robot clone thingies.  They are manufactured humans and some of the early ones went a bit nuts.  So Blade Runner’s hunt them down.  The thing is K is actually a Replicant but he’s a later model so he’s more stable.

After hunting down a Replicant named Sapper (Dave Bautista – in a role 1000x better than his GOTG2 appearance), K comes to learn that a Replicant was able to give birth to a child.  There is no way that this could actually happen – but it did happen.  K is ordered by his superior (Robin Wright) to hunt this child down.  K’s hunt unfortunately leads him to Wallace Corporation who now produces the world’s Replicants.  Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) wants to see many worlds that are ruled by just Replicants – replacing the inferior human species.  Wallace is unable to produce enough Replicants to achieve this goal.  Once finding out that a model was able to give birth all priorities are to find this child as well.  Wallace dispatches his amazingly efficient fighting Replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks in an outstanding performance) to keep tabs on K, hoping he leads them to the child.

Of course the plot eventually leads K to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) – the Blade Runner from the first film.  Deckard is in hiding and the reason for his hiding is intricate to the plot.  Once again I want to spoil zero moments from this film.  I will say that Ford comes very late in this movie (somewhere close to the end of hour #2 of a nearly 3 hour movie) and, while his appearance isn’t quite shoehorned, he could have been written out of the film.  You cast Ford in this film because you want to see him back as Deckard – but he isn’t the star.  They could have not cast Ford, went a very slightly different way, and the film would still be a damn masterpiece.  Was it nice to see Ford back as Deckard?  I guess.  He is not the man he was in the first Blade Runner.  You give it to Han Solo – when Han shows back up on-screen with Chewbacca it is almost cause to cheer.  Here?  It just looks like…Harrison Ford.

I thought Gosling was pretty damn amazing.  He plays a Replicant who is quite serious.  Never a smile.  He just has to go through a pretty monotonous life.  The only real joy he seems to have is being home with his cyber hologram girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas).  Even though Joi doesn’t have an actual body Gosling considers her just as real as him.  The relationship between the two is quite interesting especially as they move out from K’s apartment and into the real world.  K is good at his job.  He can shoot, he can fight, he is pretty much a kickass supercop.  But when he finds himself slightly over his head with this mission he starts learning a lot about himself and a world around him that he never knew existed.

I loved the cast of this film.  I’ll go back to Ana de Armas for a moment.  I first saw the actress in Knock Knock which was a film I really hated.  When she popped up again in Hands of Stone and War Dogs I was way more impressed.  She is a stunning actress but, beyond her gorgeous looks, she really has some depth.  She’s great on-screen and really is able to bring her hologram character to life.  Captain Phillips’ Barkhad Abdi has a very minor role as a man who helps K.  I never thought I would see Abdi (who was nominated for an Academy Award for Phillips) in a film again so I was way, way, way excited when he popped up.  Even if it was just for a brief moment.  Gosling, Ford, Wright, and Leto were all outstanding but I truly think the best performance goes to Sylvia Hoeks.  She is a ruthless Replicant who will truly stop at nothing to succeed for her master.  She killed it and I loved every moment she was up on-screen.

I had no clue where a Blade Runner sequel could go but the writers really came up with a phenomenal story.  I didn’t think the first film lent itself to a sequel though the second film absolutely does.  It doesn’t need to be a trilogy but it certainly would make sense to be one.  After the first weekend’s box office I would say this probably won’t happen.  Blade Runner 2049 had a budget of around $150 million but made just $30 million at the box office opening weekend domestically.  I’m not sure why anyone is surprised by this as this is a massive sequel to a cult film.

I will now say this again – this is the best film of the year.  This is probably the best sci-fi movie of all time.  Ever.  Yes over Star Wars.  Yes over Planet of the Apes.  Yes over Alien and The Matrix.  It is a technological marvel.  It is truly stunning.  It is a film worth celebrating.  So while the movie didn’t do amazing its opening weekend I truly hope that word of mouth will allow the movie to continue making $$$ in the upcoming weeks.  I want to see it again – I can’t remember the last time I spent 3 hours in a theater then immediately wanted to spend another 3 hours watching the same movie again.  I implore you to see this movie.  This movie is the reason movies are made.  It is an escape.  It is a wonder. It is…a masterpiece.

One piece of advice?  If you haven’t seen Blade Runner in the past five years it may be a decent idea to rewatch that flick before seeing this one.  Bey0nd that?  Get your butt to theater.


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