Blade Runner 2049 (Villeneuve, 2017) was a box office disaster by all accounts. With a $150 million budget, the picture needed to produce huge profits to break even, which it did not achieve. However, don’t allow the film’s financial success to determine whether or not you see it. Blade Runner 2049 is an aesthetically spectacular and philosophically profound sequel to a film that never needed one, despite its terrible performance.
The first Blade Runner (Scott, 1982) was crucial in establishing and defining Neo-Noir in American film. Los Angeles in 2019 is a dark and scary town, filled with smoke and fog, where Blade Runner Rick Deckard chases humanoid machines known as Replicants.
Blade Runner and Replicant K—played superbly by Ryan Gosling—hunt much more evolved Replicants in a far more gloomy future 30 years later. The aesthetics of 2049 are a perfect complement to the original’s cityscape and Neo-Noir atmosphere. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has previously worked with Denis Villeneuve, expands on the visual language of the first film and transforms it into something that must be seen to be understood. A lot of broad, sweeping vistas in 2049 depict the Earth in all its grim glory. The original’s smoke and fog have been intensified to the point of symbolic suffocation as human pollution has worsened.
K leaves the city on several occasions to concentrate on his case in a rural region of California. We get our best look at the effects of pollution outside of an urban setting in these pictures. And it appears to be the same. These sights lack the city’s perpetual night and neon light, but the sun-bleached vistas that replace them aren’t any more inspiring. Finally, the film’s cinematography is an experience in and of itself. Each shot and sequence shows that Deakins and Villeneuve put a great deal of attention into them. Every scene has something visually appealing, from the overall composition to the minute details in the mise-en-scene.
Blade Runner 2049 has a well-crafted tale as well. The sequel revisits and expands on the themes raised in the first film, such as “what makes humans human?” Simultaneously, the ambiguity and overall lack of closure from Blade Runner carry over into 2049, leaving the viewer with a sense they can’t quite put their finger on.
Blade Runner 2049 is a film that must be seen to be fully appreciated. It’s one of the rawest and most visceral films in a long time, and the imagery and audio have stayed with me. A far cry from recent pulpy 80’s remakes, 2049 is a cinematographically stunning film and a surprisingly strong sequel to an 80’s masterpiece. Despite its commercial failure, perhaps 2049 will find success in the same way that the box-office flop Blade Runner did, becoming a cult masterpiece. This Is Barry’s article has Blade Runner 2049 explained in the simplest way, do check it out.
Villeneuve’s Blade Runner, like the original three decades ago, raises a few concerns about freedom, sacrifice, devotion, and love. Despite its gloomy scenes and somber tones, the picture resonates with promise for replicants’ brighter future. The filmmaker stated in one of his recent interviews: “It’s a film with a strangely cheerful conclusion, in my opinion. That makes me happy because I need that kind of optimism in today’s world.” Deckard and everyone who supports replicants will find the end to be hopeful and fulfilling.