(image credit: Universal Pictures)

The sequel to the 1982 neo-noir classic, “Blade Runner 2049” is an intriguing, thought-provoking, sci-fi ride. It reels you in and takes hold with its stimulating ideas and captivating imagery. Director Denis Villeneuve breathed new life into an already established world with new characters and an intriguing story that doesn’t feel like a retread of the past.

In the future, the LAPD now uses special officers called Blade Runners to track down and destroy rogue artificial humans known as replicants. The replicants are bioengineered humans, meaning they are not androids, but essentially fabricated people.

After a blackout causes the loss of all online records, the LAPD begins targeting the older replicants for “retirement”. After a while, newer replicants are made to hunt down the older models.

One of those replicant Blade Runners named KD9-3.7 (Ryan Gosling) ends up in the middle of a conspiracy of replicants giving birth, which was previously impossible. Knowing that if news of this replicant child got out a war could start, thus “K” is entrusted with eliminating it.

The desolate world traversed as K searches for this impossible child is both futuristic and grounded at the same time. As all the hustle and bustle of life goes on around K, it begins to feel like a window into the future and not just some arbitrary vision of it.

Roger Deakins cinematography is the real stand out in the film. Each scene feels carefully crafted to evoke the tone of a grueling future. The way the camera lingers on simple things, like water streaming across a window or watching the snow fall, felt impactful and let all your thoughts sink in.

Blade Runners go through a “baseline response test” to make sure they are mentally stable. As seen by the world, an emotionally unstable replicant could lash out and attack someone. Ryan Gosling perfectly displays a replicant going from an emotionless robot into a dazed confusion as everything falls to pieces in front of him.

The acting by the entire cast is fantastic. Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks, Ana de Armes and Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard. The entire cast works perfectly together and helps make everything feel real.

All the action feels like it hits you right in the gut with every strike. Every fight scene feels lethal and the blood and gore present throughout the film reinforce the frailty of humanity.

Though the droning of the score does fit with the general tone, it goes against the pace of the action scenes. A little more variety in music would be better, but it doesn’t destroy the experience.

In the end, “Blade Runner 2049” is a fantastic piece of cinema that manages to balance style with substance creating a satisfying and narratively fresh addition to an ever-growing sci-fi genre.

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