Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” is the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” the dystopian 1982 sci-fi classic that has proven to be one of the most influential movies ever made, even though some of that influence – such as the substitution of startling production design for compelling story – has been dubious at best. The dubiousness, to a far greater extent, continues with “Blade Runner 2049,” which is impressive to watch and, at 163 minutes, often a chore to sit through.
Ryan Gosling plays Los Angeles police officer “K,” whose job it is to “retire” the few remaining old-style Nexus 8 replicants, which have been replaced by the more controllable Nexus 9 series. Since most of this movie, co-written by Michael Green and Hampton Fancher (Fancher co-wrote the original) resides in the realm of Spoiler Alert, suffice to say there is talk of a pregnant replicant, “K” suffers an identity crisis, his Nexus 9 girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas) is easily the coziest hologram ever seen on film, and, as has been well-publicized, Harrison Ford shows up for the last half hour or so in his old role as Rick Deckard, looking appropriately grizzled and massively annoyed to have been tracked down by “K.”
Like Villeneuve’s “Arrival,” “Blade Runner 2049” is heavy with portentous and pretentious hoo-ha. Like so many filmmakers, and not just sci-fi filmmakers, Villeneuve seems to think that “visionary” is synonymous with very slow and very monotonous. Poor Ryan Gosling, who is required to intone his lines with extreme soddenness, has to shoulder the brunt of the monotony. There are flashes of visual grandeur in “Blade Runner 2049,” which was shot by the always-inventive Roger Deakins, but there’s not much reason for this film to exist outside of its fan base. Grade: C+ (Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language.)