The original Blade Runner, a cult classic directed by the incomparable Ridley Scott, debuted in 1982. Harrison Ford starred as Rick Deckard, a former LAPD Officer who became a bounty hunter known as a “blade runner”. Responsible for assassinating human-like androids known as replicants, Deckard is astute, picking up on the subtleties that expose the replicants as faux humans. Outlawed on Earth, six replicants, angry about their short lifespans, return to confront their creator, Dr. Tyrell, and it’s Deckard’s job to “retire” them. Set in a dark and ultra-modern Los Angeles in 2019, Blade Runner was nominated for two Academy Awards. (Interestingly, Ridley Scott’s vision of LA in less than two years is way off the mark, but that’s a good thing in my opinion.)
I had zero plans of ever watching Blade Runner, but after noting that the sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is nearly three hours long, I figured I’d better have an idea of what’s going on before stepping foot into the theater. At the end of Blade Runner, I was left questioning whether the replicants are in fact actually bad, and wondered why they were even created if they weren’t to be trusted. I also had a lingering question about Deckard’s mere anti-hero existence, curious whether there was something more to him than just intuition that made him such an expert when it came to identifying replicants. What was the real reason behind his change of heart about the replicants’ mortality?
It’s not often that a sequel takes 35 years to come to fruition, but with the release of Blade Runner 2049, the story picks up 30 years later. Reprising his role as Rick Deckard, Harrison Ford stars in the sequel along with heartthrob Ryan Gosling. An LAPD Officer, Gosling’s character “K” is a new blade runner whose unnerving discovery prompts him to find Deckard, whose whereabouts have been unknown for three decades. The last time we saw Deckard in the original, he was driving away from LA.
My friend Ethan, who has seen Blade Runner multiple times, noting that it is “arguably one of the best sci-fi films of all time,” has been eagerly anticipating this sequel. After the movie was over, I asked him how it compared to the original. Did it meet his expectations? “It did,” he affirms. “The first one, which my father introduced me to, made me ask some deeper questions, and this one had me answering some of those questions while still leaving me asking even more. It satisfied the next chapter, but I believe it’s not the end of the story. I’m not sated, but I’m intrigued further about this story and this Blade Runner universe that Ridley Scott created.”
Ethan continued, sharing some points he was left pondering after watching one of the characters discover something which once seemed utterly implausible. “What does all this mean for both the human race and artificial intelligence? What does all this mean for the replicants thereafter?” Discussing the film elements itself, Ethan noted, “In keeping with the original plot, a lot of artistry went into this story.” Ethan said he would “definitely” recommend this sequel for those who saw the original, but as far as those who haven’t seen the first he cautions, “I can see how this could be tough.”
I agreed with Ethan. Because I watched Blade Runner the night before I saw Blade Runner 2049, I had an understanding of what was going on in the sequel, and kept thinking that those in the theater without the same prior knowledge probably felt lost from the beginning, unable to catch up as the story progressed. As we left the theater, I heard a couple of people discussing “how long and terrible” it was, and I assumed that they were Blade Runner virgins.
As for my opinion, sci-fi isn’t my favorite genre, and I felt almost annoyed with the director during certain scenes, thinking, “Come on! You could have easily shaved a minute or two off this scene.” While I can usually handle long movies without a problem, I found myself shifting in my seat a lot, wondering how much was left. The same points that intrigued Ethan, I found equally interesting, but for me personally, the only thing that made the sequel better than the original was Ryan Gosling, whose handsomeness was, at least for me, the best part of the film.
Movie times: click here
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Actors: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas
Running Time: 2 hours 43 minutes
Rating: Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language