A Short Review of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

blade runner 2049

I’m excited to dig into Blade Runner 2049 throughout the entire weekend, notably on the Cinemaholics podcast coming out Sunday. But for now, I’ve written some short, spoiler-free thoughts about the film just a day after seeing it.

In general, I’ve been moving away from the standard film reviews you’ve seen on this site since it launched in 2012, mainly because my long form writing has been dedicated elsewhere. And honestly, I find it just as fun and fulfilling to share my immediate thoughts on a film with all of you on Twitter.

For many of you who don’t use Twitter, however, here’s my take on Blade Runner 2049 and whether or not you should take the time to see it.

It’s hard to define a masterpiece, but I buy this criteria: a masterpiece should be superb in almost all aspects of the filmmaking. That includes a film’s technological accomplishments, storytelling, plot execution, performance power, and emotional draw.

The emotional draw for any film is hard to pin down, as it’s basically an “X factor.” There’s no science to it. Yet Blade Runner 2049 has two X factors:

1) It effortlessly inspires wonder, which few films manage to do at this level. The credit goes to Roger Deakins’s triumphant cinematography.

2) It transcends the genre. Yes, the film expands on ideas we’ve seen before. But it also deconstructs tropes that go beyond science fiction. Unfortunately, getting into this would require spoilers, but I can safely say it revolves around the archetype of the typical “hero” character.

See, Blade Runner 2049 goes from “what defines humanity” in the first movie to “what defines artificial humanity,” a perfect continuation. It still has the simple detective story from the first one, but now it also weaves in beautiful, jarring vignettes throughout with too many ideas to count. They all ladder up to one, cohesive experience.

That’s why Blade Runner 2049 will be a film that film nerds will find irresistible when learning about film and deciding to make film. For me, that marks a masterpiece. The fact that this film is so rich and satisfying for both crowds and cynics is enough of an emotional draw for me to conclude so. For now.

Because I can also understand why the emotional draw will fall flat for some, thus making it just “pretty good” for them. That’s to be expected. It’s as natural as a replicant.

To sum up, Blade Runner 2049 is a visual feast that actually lets you dig into the meal. It combines what we’ve seen before with what we’ve never seen. And seeing it in IMAX captured everything I love about experiencing stories, period. Do yourself a favor and check it out in theaters.

Blade Runner 2049 was directed by Denis Villeneuve, screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. It stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, and Mackenzie Davis. No “after credits” scene.



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2 thoughts on “A Short Review of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

  1. Great review Jon!
    I was one of the ones that didn’t get the emotional draw from this film. I thought at its core K’s storyline was heartbreaking but they chose not to drive home the emotional punch that it required, making it fall a bit flat for me. Although, overall I enjoyed the film, despite the poor pacing. What are your thoughts on Zimmer’s score?

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