With an engrossing story, stunning visuals and a brilliantly visceral score, Denis Villeneuve creates a film that isn’t just an excellent sequel; it’s a phenomenal film all on its own.

In Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, Rick Deckard is a blade runner – a special class of police investigators tasked with seeking out and “retiring” rogue Replicants. He is tasked with finding four Replicants who stole a ship to return to Earth to find their maker. In this sequel, “K,” a young blade runner with serious questions about his own past, unveils a secret that could change the world – and all leads point toward Deckard who disappeared more than 30 years ago.

Creating a sequel to a film that is as iconic as Blade Runner comes with a whole slew of difficulties – not the least of which is balancing fan expectations with artistic vision – and these issues are only compounded by sequels released more than 30 years after their originals. Luckily, Blade Runner 2049 manages to thread the needle with style and grace.

Ryan Gosling’s “K,” while he holds a similar position in the film to Harrison Ford’s Deckard in the original, wholly owns the character – making it something new and different yet familiar enough to be able to draw some interesting connections between the two. Ford’s reprisal of the Deckard role, while definitely good, is more difficult to observe as most of Ford’s reprised roles have seemed to fall into the category of “grumpy old man with trust issues.”

The supporting cast – Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, and Sylvia Hoeks in particular – are absolutely brilliant; underpinning some of the film’s most intriguing philosophical elements beautifully.

Visually, the film is absolutely what one would expect: recognizably fitting the cyberpunk-noir style of the original film while still showing advancement from the time that has passed within the film’s world. Flying cars, replicant prostitutes, and holographic advertisements the size of buildings inhabit a world of bold colors, deep shadows, and even deeper socio-economic division.

The musical score, courtesy of Benjamin Wallfisch  and the incomparable Hans Zimmer, is almost a physical object throughout the film. Bone-shaking thrums and soaring synthesized melodies feel simultaneously familiar and unique, much like the rest of the film, and add an immersive sense of atmosphere to each scene it accompanies – it’s less a soundtrack and more a soundscape for the dystopian world.

Blade Runner 2048 expands deeply upon the themes, visuals, and storylines of its predecessor while still maintaining enough of itself to hold its own against the expectations that many are sure to have. While it has a tendency to answer questions with yet more questions, it does so in a way that inspires rather than infuriates.

4 and a half out of 5 stars

Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve
Written By: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Lennie James, Harrison Ford, Barkhad Abdi
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Runtime: 2h 43min
Post-Credits Scene: No

Official Trailer:

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