Back to the future for Harrison Ford. Again.
A little more than two years after he returned to his iconic thespian roots-in-space with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, Ford re-visits his other science fiction franchise with ‘Blade Runner 2049’. But the trip here was a very different journey.
When it opened in theaters back in 1982 – unlike that galaxy far, far away – ‘Blade Runner’ wasn’t a very big hit. Then it hit video, and VHS made the film an instant classic – so much, in fact, fans of the strange, gritty, most influential sci-fi-noir flick of its century was inevitably going to get a follow up chapter. And……here we are.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ picks up decades after the original with Ryan Gosling’s K, a stone-faced blade runner (remind you of anyone?), hunting old school replicants in a dystopian universe. You think Ridley Scott’s vision of 2019 in the first film was a grim one? Wait’ll you see Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic prediction; the earth’s ecosystems have all but collapsed, rendering portions of the landscape burned, some bleached, with a whole lot of wet and black adorning the image. Los Angeles is in bad shape. Shoot, San Diego is a dumpster fire. The future does not look bright.
Plot-wise, here’s the rub; Gosling is a replicant himself. Rather, he MIGHT be. Like Scott’s sick teasing attempts at any kind of background or origins, Villeneuve plays a similar game in the handing off of the torch. ‘2049’ is as stocked with questions as it is style.
No matter – the payoff is when we see Ford’s weathered hero, Deckard, make his triumphant return. Oh, and Jared Leto plays a creepy villain – not like THAT hasn’t been done already.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ is an achievement, no doubt – unfortunately, it’s primarily a VISUAL achievement. It’s really, REALLY long and is never able to fully return the emotional investment that long-time admirers of the original motion picture have already made.