Blade Runner 2049: Better than the Original?

BLADE RUNNER 2049 has been out for one week now. From initial reactions of “the best science fiction movie of all time” to “style over substance that doesn’t answer anything” one thing is certain, the polar reactions are getting a lot of people talking about this underperforming but destined cult classic. Denis Villeneuve took the challenge to direct the sequel to one of the most loved science fictions in human history. I have been so torn since seeing it I really had no idea what to write about it. But a week, many wines and self berating see me at the keyboard. BLADE RUNNER 2049 is out from Sony Pictures, it is 164mins long and rated MA15+.

Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling image
Ryan Gosling



My review is bloated with spoilers so if you haven’t seen it just scroll to the end, check out the pop score then read the entire review after viewing the movie. The simple plot is thus…

Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. His discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.

The complete spoiler synopsis is thus…

In the last thirty years since the original movie the world has changed. There was a major world blackout and Deckard disappeared into hiding. The Tyrell Corporation went bust and spiritual megalomaniac and tech genius Niander Wallace took over the creation of replicants. All the old replicants are being hunted down (still) via Blade Runners and the new models are all very reliable and seem to obey without hesitation.

K is a replicant Blade Runner, caught up in a shitstorm of hurt, after it is discovered that a replicant gave birth. A fucking robot birthed a baby! Deckard is the father and Sean Young’s Rachael the mother. Wallace is losing his shit as he can’t get his replicants to reproduce (I am going with God Complex) and it’s also in the rest of the world’s interests to eliminate the child if they can find it because we don’t need the replicants knowing they are a self servicing life form.


Blade Runner 2049 Jared Leto image
Jared Leto



Denis Villeneuve is a modern cinematic visionary. His films INCENDIES, PRISONERS, SICARIO, ENEMY and ARRIVAL are all applauded, technically marvellous and cerebrally stimulating. He creates these wonderful worlds that can be commercially viable but don’t treat the viewer like they are intellectually below par. Taking on BLADE RUNNER 2049 would have been the biggest gamble in his career. The original replicant movie is worshipped by some with a somewhat religious fervour – stuff that up and that marvellous career could come crumbling down. People only remember your most recent mistake, cough Ridley.

Villeneuve’s BLADE RUNNER 2049, if nothing else, is the single best sequel that manages to capture the tone of the original. The re-entry into the world of the replicants is, in reality, thirty years, but it was like Villeneuve never left it. His recreations, atmosphere and characters are all standing ovation brilliance.

Villeneuve’s cinematic visions make him capable of anything cerebral – I would kill people to see him make a TRON instalment.


Blade Runner 2049 Ana De Armas and Ryan Gosling image
Ana De Armas and Ryan Gosling



The highs for BLADE RUNNER 2049 are abundant. The fantastic artistic direction, the direction itself of course, the music from Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer – one of the greatest things from the movie for me. And the cast. Just incredible. K was only written with Gosling in mind and of course Ford would be in the sequel – he is Blade Runner. His role is a lot shorter than people would think and he does his Ford thing. As for K, I have never felt so sorry for a character in years, Gosling plays it emotionless as his character warrants but the subtleties and heartbreak for this (supposedly heartless) character hurt.

The screenplay from Hampton Fancher and Michael Green is marvellous but only continues the story, it doesn’t really resolve anything. But it was the first screenplay for a sequel that Harrison Ford agreed to be a part of. Joe Walker’s editing, Dennis Gassner’s production design and the sublime cinematography from the grand master, Roger Deakins, all get my claps.

My love for Robin Wright holds no bounds and Leto was a fantastic nutjob (his character was originally written for Bowie). Ana de Armas was one of the best pieces of A.I. I have seen, she messed with my head. If she looked any more like Melissa George I would have self combusted.

Sylvia Hoeks nearly stole the show for me. Her evil emotionless replicant bitch was close to Terminator level and I wanted more scenes with her.


Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford image
Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford



The one thing that impressed me the most about BLADE RUNNER 2049 was it’s level of intelligence. It could also be one the most frustrating parts of the movie and it’s box-office downfall. Fans wanted answers following the original but Villeneuve refused to answer them, instead giving us all a crapload more unanswered questions. You could study this film for years and end up in a conundrum of insanity. No film has questioned “what makes humanity?” quite like Blade Runner, in it’s science fiction noir style.

But the questions and confusion left in the wake of this brilliance will piss me off until 2079. Is Deckard a fracking replicant? No one knows – K asks him if his dog is real and in metaphorical reply he answers “no one knows.” Arrrggghhhhhh. How has Deckard managed to hide for so long? This adds fuel to the fire.

The blackout saw most records lost so this helped him and he is an ex Blade Runner so that would also help but him living in the middle of one of the most radiated areas on earth without getting ill leads one to believe he could be a replicant. The original director and 2049’s producer, Ridley Scott, has been adamant from the start that Deckard is a replicant. But it is never answered! Is the child that is born full replicant baby or half replicant half human? More to mess with your mind.

What caused the blackout? I need an entire movie to explain this to me? Is Joi sentient and the next level of the messed up universe where even the holographic A.I.’s have gain sentience or is she just a near perfect program? This messed with me as much as everything else!

How has K got Ana’s memories? Is someone orchestrating this? Do the real memories filter to the replicant by accident in the process of creating a memory? And why couldn’t K catch a break and be the actual “birthed one.” Nothing worked for him – he was a true hero who lost EVERYTHING!!! Bloody Deckard should have died to save his life!!

The other let down of this movie is the length – just way too long! Nearly three hours. My viewing partner argued they couldn’t tell a movie this good in less time. I counter argue – THE ORIGINAL WAS 43MINS SHORTER!!! The first half drags like a valium haze but when it kicks in enjoy the beauty!


Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling image
Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling image


I am in a love/ hate relationship with this movie. Visually just give it all the Oscars, for the music give it more, give Villeneuve a statue also and for the love of GOD give Roger Deakins his gong. But for frack’s sake make another sequel and answer some bloody questions! BLADE RUNNER 2049 will split audiences and opinions to pieces. For me it doesn’t live up to the greatness of the original but it captures the soul and tone of the Blade Runner universe like no other sequel before it.




 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.