By Jim Tortolano
With a few notable exceptions, movie sequels are usually flops, relying too much on the good will created by the original. Even, for instance, the popular “Star Wars” trilogy has drawn primarily groans from critics and fans for its prequels and follow-ups.
The second time is certainly not the charm for “Blade Runner 2049,” the sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic 1992 sci-fi film about hunting rogue “replicants” – artificial humans – in 2019 Los Angeles. This version, set 30 years later, stars Ryan Gosling and features a too-late appearance by Harrison Ford, reprising – as a somewhat bewildered older guy – the role of Rick Deckard.
At first look, this is a gorgeous film. The optics are impressive, but soon turn oppressive. The whole world – or at least Southern California – is one crowded, depopulated wasteland; rusty metal crouching under a constant drizzle.
Gosling, as Officer K, is himself a replicant, hired by the Los Angeles Police Department to hunt down others of his kind, since they were created to work off-planet in mining and other dangerous occupations.
It’s difficult to imagine why anyone would want to risk life and limb to come to 2049 L.A. Frankly, the place is a dump. K has a holographic girlfriend – Joi, played by Ana de Armas – who has a lot more spunk than he does. Gosling appears to be channeling Keanu Reeves in his worst blank-faced phase.
There are chases, fights and more drizzle. Scenes drag on endlessly. The exposition is achingly protracted, and the pacing ponderous. It reminds you of a writer who is paid by the inch.
At some point, you stop caring. If you’re going to make a movie that lasts two hours and 44 minutes, you’d better put plenty of audience-friendly turns and twists in there. I eventually reached the point where I started to wonder who was suffering more: the folks in this hellish future or the audience in the theater.
Shame on director Denis Villeneuve and writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green for taking a zippy 90-minute story and turning it into a sleepy slog.
“Blade Runner 2049” is rated R for violence, nudity and sexual situations.
Categories: Arts & Leisure