Despite Its Trouble in the Box Office, "Blade Runner: 2049" Is Stunning

Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner was not considered the groundbreaking classic sci-fi film in 1982 as it is today. Coming out in the same summer as E.T., it became a box office flop.

Similarly, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner: 2049, is not doing well in the box office so far. With a production budget of over $150 million, the film only made $31.5 million in its opening weekend. However, despite its struggle in the box office, this film is worth the watch.

Blade Runner: 2049 takes place in 2049 Los Angeles, where Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is the new blade runner for the LAPD, retiring old versions of replicants. On the job, he discovers a box containing startling information, which he is instructed to destroy. His findings lead him to attempt to locate Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the former -- and missing -- blade runner.

The first thing you are going to notice about 2049 is its visuals. Cinematographer Roger Deakins creates a futuristic LA with his hues of blue, orange, and pink. And with a strong special effects team, this dystopian future looks how we might imagine it. Particularly, I enjoyed scenes of K’s virtual girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armas), who would frequently flash transparent, reminding the viewer that she is just a creation of the future.

In fact, determining what is real versus what isn’t is a major theme that drives the plot of the film. Not only is this present in Joi, but everything the viewer encounters is a question of authenticity. Just when something seems completely real, it’s revealed to be just another concept of Villeneuve’s futuristic world.

Before seeing the film, I was unsure if Gosling would be the right match for the sci-fi sequel’s leading role. Though I have mostly enjoyed his past performances, his more recent roles in films such as La La Land and The Nice Guys are the complete opposite of 2049, and made me slightly nervous entering the theater. However, those worries quickly vanished in the first few scenes. Though Officer K may not be the most complex character to execute, Gosling’s performance reminded me of his wide range of skills.

With the film being just short of a three hour runtime, I was surprised how long it took for Ford’s Rick Deckard to be introduced. It was worth the wait, however, and somehow the film never felt like it was dragging on without him.

Though the visuals and special effects in Blade Runner: 2049 made it especially pleasing for me, I overall enjoyed all aspects of the film. While Villeneuve perfectly paid homage to Scott’s classic Blade Runner, you can still see the film if you’re not familiar with the original. So whether you are a fan of the original, into science fiction, or just want to stare at Ryan Gosling for three hours, Blade Runner: 2049 is a film worth seeing.  

Cover photo credit: Blade Runner Movie