Set thirty years after the original film, the story depicts a replicant blade runner named K (Ryan Gosling), who discovers the remains of a once-pregnant replicant. To prevent a possible war between species, K is secretly tasked with finding the child and destroying all evidence related to it. Along the way, he must deal with a megalomaniacal replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who has his own vested interest in locating the child as well as a few familiar faces from the past.
The cinematography is God damn gorgeous. There are some beautiful sweeping shots and the world of the film is established like no other before it. Even in the scenes in which seemingly nothing is happening, something can always be seen in the background taking over the frame. It’s never dominant to distract one from watching the film itself but it’s often a wonder to look at and adds to the overall atmosphere.
The acting is terrific across the board. Ryan Gosling has always been a tremendous lead, especially in films where he has to display a passive demeanour. He gets so much emotion and meaning across with his eyes and facial expressions alone. It’s almost a crime that he’s yet to win an Academy Award for any of his performances. Harrison Ford is also very game in a return to one of his best roles in Deckard. This is an even-more weathered Deckard and being an older and more experienced actor now, Ford pulls it off and plays wonderfully opposite Gosling. Also lighting up the screen is Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi, Gosling’s superior, as she is a character with shades of gray. Some of her orders seem menacing but there appears to be a genuine affection shown for Gosling. Sylvia Hoeks is chilling as the replicant Luv and Ana de Armas steals a number of scenes as Gosling’s artificial girlfriend. This is not even mentioning a solid dramatic turn by Dave Bautista and another quirky, entertaining performance from Jared Leto as one of the main antagonists.
I loved the use of characters and how they didn’t overstay their welcome. For instance, Leto’s character is such a force and he makes a huge impact but he is only on-screen for a handful of minutes and used sparingly, which makes him that much more effective. The same goes for Ford even though he has been front-and-center for much of the film’s advertising, he doesn’t show up until quite a ways into it and is decidedly more of a supporting character than he was in the original film.
Villeneuve’s direction needs to be spoken about here. It’s breathtaking. The actors hit all the right notes and the staging of multiple scenes is done in a fantastic manner, showcasing the film’s excellent use of space. Consider a fight scene that occurs about halfway through the film and the way it is shot; it’s unlike any scene of its kind I have witnessed in a film beforehand.
Sound design is another strong element of the film. Everything sounds so mechanical and when the tension ramps up, it actually feels as if you are being surrounded by the sounds themselves.
There is a beautiful scene in which Joi desires to physically please Gosling and must do so through an actual human vessel. It’s a scene reminiscent of Her in which Joaquin Phoenix makes love to a woman while the automated voice that he’s fallen for enjoys it through someone else. It’s scenes like this that make this film stand out above any cash-grab remakes/sequels that have been released in the last few years.
Oh yeah, the special effects are also terrific. You expect to see a lot of CGI in this film and boy howdy, you do get a lot of it but it never looks phony or feels excessive. All of the special effects are used to enhance the story and the look of the film and that’s exactly what you want in these types of movies.
Are you kidding me? No.
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)