Blade Runner 2049

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford & Ana de Armas
Rating: 15 Duration: 164 minutes Release date: 5 February (UK)

Realising that you don’t like a film that has been, very nearly, universally praised is a hard thing to take. Sometimes it’s difficult to admit something to yourself, especially when the common consensus is against you. But, here I am, I’ve just watched Blade Runner 2049 and I sit with my head in my hands wondering where it all went wrong. Was it me? Was it the film? Is there an unspecified amount of peer pressure to enjoy this film? Or was it just monumentally boring? I almost feel sad saying this, but Blade Runner 2049 was a chore of a film and despite being utterly beautiful, I found myself devoid of enjoyment or interest while the film ran for nearly three hours.

Set 30 years after the events of Blade Runner, director Denis Villeneuve has taken the mantle from Ridley Scott and attempts to deliver a film that works as a stand alone and also honours the 1982 original. Ryan Gosling’s Officer K is an LAPD Blade Runner who uncovers a long buried secret that threatens to tear apart what is left of an already fragile society. As he uncovers more clues, K is led to Harrison Ford’s returning Rick Deckard. With a class war brewing, mentions of walls to keep the replicants away from the humans and the chance of a better life “off-world”, Blade Runner 2049 carries an almighty weight which is intensely felt throughout the film.

It’s not easy to criticise a film like this. In fact, it would be much easier to write a glowing review where I talk about Roger Deakins gorgeous cinematography, seriously if he doesn’t win an Oscar for this there is no hope for the world. Or I could talk about Denis Villeneuve’s smart and brave film-making, where he builds worlds from the ground up and dares to make some of the smartest films of his generation in a time where all people want is the next superhero film or whatever Dwayne Johnson pops up in next. I could talk about Dave Bautista’s excellent performance in a role that maybe many didn’t expect him to be able to give. Or Ana de Armas giving a heartbreaking portrayal of a hologram whose sole purpose is to please Gosling’s downbeat police officer. There is fine, award winning work to be admired here, but at two hours and 44 minutes long, it’s an incredibly hard film to stomach.

Perhaps, much like the original, Blade Runner 2049 is a film that will grow over time. Maybe I will appreciate it more after further viewings, but the fact remains that I don’t really want to travel back to California 2049. For all its staggering beauty and thoughtful shots, I do not want to come back here. It really does pain me to say this, but once the boredom had set in there was no coming back. It’s a troublesome issue, and one that is made even harder to admit because I truly do recognise how brilliantly well made the film is, and how earnestly acted the whole thing is. One may even conclude that Harrison Ford may be doing his finest work here. But, as the dust settles and we take another step with Ryan Gosling’s forlorn officer, I can’t help but feel like I’m watching a different film to everyone else. Yes it’s gorgeous, and yes it’s smart science-fiction with a blockbuster budget and god damn it yes I want more films like this, but when does it become enjoyable?

3/5

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6 thoughts on “Blade Runner 2049

  1. I had a similar reaction to ‘Cold Mountain.’ I remember being in the theatre and everyone was in love with it. The friend I saw it with had seen the movie three or four times. The whle crowd laughed, cheered, and gasped in unison. I took multiple trips to the bathroom to walk around and hoped the main characters would die sooner rather than later so we could all get out of the theatre and on with our lives. So I feel your pain! it’s weird to feel you’re alone in not liking something everyone else seems to love but, as you did above, to thine own self be true! I appreciate your honest review, especially as I’ve been wondering whether or not it was worth renting and investing the near three hours into this film.

    1. Hi there, I saw that you mentioned Cold Mountain and I had to reply to your comment. I never saw it in the cinema, I had to watch it as part of a college assignment as I had Anthony Minghella as my director to write about. And Cold Mountain was one of the films I rented to watch and out of that film, The English Patient and Breaking and Entering, that was the one I gravitated to the most. I haven’t seen the film since 2010, but I do remember enjoying it more than I expected.

      1. See, that’s what I don’t get! I totally own the fact that I’m this weird, unexplained outlier in the whole ‘Cold Mountain’ experience. I have no idea why I didn’t like it. I liked the cast. I enjoy historical epics. I enjoy longer films. I have no idea why it didn’t grab me. Maybe it was the night I was having? Maybe I should revisit it at some point in time…

  2. This is a difficult one. I feel your pain: some films I’ve seen have felt a lot like this and people inexplicably enjoy them (There Will Be Blood being the one I remember most of all) and BR2049 kinda felt like this at times, but I was so engrossed in the story and Villeneuve’s visuals I kinda felt the hours slip away without problem.

    I think this film is a slow burn, that is it will eventually find similar cult status as the original only through years of analysis and rewatching.

  3. I am sorry to hear that this film wasn’t your cup of tea, but at the same time I saw a good few responses like this when the film came out last year. And as a guy who understands the significance of the original and liked some elements of it, so imagine my surprise when I ended up really loving BR2049, there was something intriguing, beautiful and sad about the whole thing and yet it got into my head in a way I didn’t expect.

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