Movies can be about ideas, they can be about plot. They can be about characters and mood and images and anything you want them to be. What movies shouldn’t be is an amalgamation of all of these that doesn’t allow the film to rise above. Blade Runner 2049 has some incredible and admirable elements but the sum of the parts don’t quite cohere.
Blade Runner 2049 was quite a conundrum of a film to watch. In many ways it’s the cinematic equivalent of the crabs in the barrel mentality. For every beautiful visual, there was a plot thread tugging at the usefulness of the image. For every good actor, there seemed to be a camera that seemed only concerned with how cool of a visual could be formed. It’s not that these elements were bad, many are quite good, just that they don’t compliment each other like they should. If you are telling a 90 minute story over a two hour and forty four minute run time, then the elements of your film will feel like the drag that they did in this picture. Moodiness can’t sustain a thin narrative for that amount of time, it barely sustains the movie in scenes with out Ryan Gosling.
That being said, when this movie is centered on K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant who hunts down his own kind who stumbles upon the ultimate mystery and begins to doubt himself, the movie flourishes. This is in part due to Ryan Gosling turning in one of his best performances of his career. Watching him have to balance the bioengineered human with someone who might actually be human in a world where we can’t tell the difference was great. He is the best in the movie at channeling the mood of the piece without having to be overly serious (like poor unnecessary Jared Leto). It’s very much similar to the female protagonists in the Women Who Lie to Themselves genre and was awesome to witness. His quiet fury and dread is matched by the intensity and bristling rage of Sylvia Hoeks who plays Luv, the henchwoman to Tyrell.
But in the end, these delights are kind of wasted because the plot of this movie and the scale just don’t see to match up. Blade Runner 2049 has an identity crisis of trying to be an incredibly insular and personal story set in a world of immense proportions but moves its characters around in a case that’s massive. The urgency of the story and it’s characters should have dictated a faster response, more bodies, and a tighter edit. As it is, Blade Runner 2049 is simply an overlong mood piece.