Though met with mixed reactions and mediocre box office takings upon release, 1982's Blade Runner now remains an iconic cult hit and that many consider one of Ridley Scott's finest directorial efforts. Now, over thirty years later, an unexpected sequel has arisen; though it's sadly ended up a financial disappointment, Blade Runner 2049 is also one of 2017's very best films, and a sequel that the original film certainly deserves.
In 2049, biorobotic humans dubbed replicants are engineered for a variety of tasks; one such model, K (Ryan Gosling), works within the LAPD to hunt down and retire older replicant models hidden deep in society. His work eventually begins to unveil more and more mysteries about the replicants' history and potential, which in turn triggers questions over his own origins and purpose.
Blade Runner 2049 thankfully creates a story respectful towards the original and is far from a lazy rehash; it cleverly intertwines a number of new ideas within an engrossing premise to further develop this rich fictional world. The film's superb art direction creates an absorbing and equally unique dystopian future, depicted with some stunning visual effects and set design. Such aesthetics are further bolstered by a superb soundtrack; one that pays homage to the original film with similarly iconic themes whilst also offering up some lovely original music of its own.
Audiences will journey through all manner of twists and turns as the plot moves forward; while not without occasional sluggish moments (leading to a huge run time), the complex narrative is still handled with care and attention to detail. It challenges viewers with a number of intriguing questions about what is human and what isn't, and of course leaves it to the audience to deduce a number of interesting twists themselves. Certain plot threads seem to intentionally lack a degree of finality, allowing for more subjective outcomes and inviting debate amongst audiences over what various scenes mean and how they fit in with the original film.
This story prospers even further thanks to a superb cast lead by Gosling, and also featuring talents such Jared Leto and Sylvia Hoeks in threatening if slightly forgettable villainous roles. Gosling's deadpan protagonist wins merit for an intimidating presence during various set pieces as well the genuine heartfelt persona that comes to fruition during more tender moments; it certainly leads to what is arguably one of Gosling's best roles to date. Harrison Ford also makes a welcome return in the role of Deckett, and it's fair to say his performance is just as spot on as it was in the original. His character blends seamlessly into later portions of the story and is developed even further with great results, making his role far from a lazy cameo.
Blade Runner 2049 didn't need to be nearly three hours long; some of its set pieces are also a little excessive, and the plot undeniably gets a little confusing during its deeper moments. Still, what you watch is an enthralling piece of science fiction and a worthy successor to a beloved cult classic. Fans of the original will be just as impressed as those fairly new to the story; it's certainly a shame to see it fail to attract a larger audience, for it deserves one for sure.