The following article contains minor spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner 2049”.
You have been warned.
The day I’m writing this is the day I saw both the original Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) and the subject of this article, the 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049. As such my thoughts are gut/initial reactions to both, so keep that in mind, please. That said, this will primarily be my thoughts on certain aspects of the sequel. Though there are some thoughts on the original that I’ll be bringing up when they’re relevant.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to it.
(Final note: Occasionally I’ll simply refer to the sequel as “2049” for short)
Blade Runner 2049 is a movie I’m surprised actually managed to turn out the way it did. This, a sequel to a neo-noir sci-fi movie from the early eighties that actually manages to keep the spirit of the original intact. Logic dictates this should’ve been an action-filled mess, or generally have just missed the point of the original entirely.
I would assume the involvement of Ridley Scott (who I was surprised to learn was just an executive producer, not the director for this) helped with that. And the safe assumption the director, Denis Villeneuve, was committed to keeping the tone in line with the original. Also helps that one of the original writers was on board. Generally speaking, the stars seemed to align in this specific case, and the movie is all the better for it.
The main talking point I have is something I might as well get out of the way now, and is a nice segue from the point I just made. 2049 has several moments where it looks like it could turn into an action-movie out of nowhere. But it doesn’t. Sure, there are some action scenes, but they’re very subdued and brief. The most “action-movie” thing that happens (apart from a few, very brief fight scenes) is when the character “Luv” and some lackeys come to kidnap Deckard.
They blow a section or two out of the side of the building Deckard & K are in, which knocks them (and Deckard’s dog) back as a result. From memory that was the only explosion in the movie, and even then, it was a fairly small one. Especially given the size of the building being hit. This was one of few key instances where I expected the movie to devolve into a typical action set piece…and (thankfully) that never happened.
Don’t get me wrong, I like big action set pieces as much as the next person. When they actually belong in the movie in question. Blade Runner & 2049 are not action movies, and they never really try to be. While I’m not sure how much this made Blade Runner stand out back in the early eighties (given I wasn’t born yet), I know for sure it makes 2049 stand out among the movies of today.
Of the few sci-fi/sci-fi-related movies I have seen (and one yet to be released) this year, 2049 stands out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. I have a feeling Hollywood thinks this kind of movie can’t be made anymore, or can’t make money. Hopefully the fact that 2049 has already made its budget back proves them wrong. Though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t make them try to milk the franchise dry. Given rumblings of sequels to 2049 I won’t hold my breath though.
Tangent aside, I’ll now end on my thoughts comparing the original to the sequel. Straight to the point, I actually like 2049 more than the original. While I will concede I may have to give Blade Runner a proper watch later on (and also watch The Final Cut, as I’ve only seen the Director’s Cut), there’s just something missing from it that I feel 2049 actually has. And while I can’t pin-point too much, there is one major factor 2049 has over the original. Time. 2049 has a run time of almost three hours. Blade runner, no matter which version you’re watching, falls short of two hours.
While this might seem like an odd thing to bring up as a flaw of the original, I really do believe a lack of time is what hinders it slightly in comparison to 2049. 2049 has plenty of time to set up the plot and characters involved, especially the main character K. Blade Runner has some characters that you could honestly cut out entirely and it feels like you ultimately wouldn’t lose much. At least from a story perspective.
Whether it was thought a two-and-a-half-hour movie of this nature wouldn’t sell in 1982, or Ridley Scott just envisioned it as being as long as it was, I don’t know for sure. But again, I feel an extra half hour could’ve been added, which could’ve allowed for certain aspects to be expanded upon. Oh, also, I feel 2049 has a better/more fulfilling ending than Blade Runner. Sue me.
All-in-all I enjoyed the absolute hell out of Blade Runner 2049. And while I am very sceptical about any potential sequels that may happen in the future, I feel the future is bright for this franchise so long as the team behind 2049 is kept around to make sure it’s handled correctly.