‘Blade Runner 2049’ review: Runs, but never flies

Director Denis Villeneuve once caught everyone on a hop with his sci-fi thriller Blade Runner in 1982, for it’s futuristic settings and special effects were truly spell binding. The movie however, found itself at the short end of a stick due to a wafer-thin plot and its meandering pace. Fast forward by 35 years, and the case is very much the same. Villeneuve returns to his Blade Runner saga with a sequel that is now set in a dystopic 2049, with Ryan Gosling as Officer K, taking over the blade runner mantle of Los Angeles Police Department from Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been missing following the events in 2019. Although the movie flies out of the blocks with Gosling giving a glimpse of his new role in a brutal altercation with Sapper Morton, played by Dave Bautista, all the fizz soon fizzles out. Our protagonist then sets out on a journey to find the lost Rick, and that’s when the movie recedes into the abyss of ennui, as Gosling’s pursuit increasingly seems implausible and leaves you more perplexed than a box of Trivial Pursuit. However, just like its prequel, its the lavish VFX that takes the driver’s seat here. Credits to Double Negative, MPC, Framestore, and Rodeo FX, the visual treat never fails to take you by delight. Virtually every scene reeks of heavy visual effects. Right from the futuristic settings of 2049 to the swanky vehicles of the LAPD officers; from Jared Leto’s (playing the beastly-eyed Niander Wallace) kingsly hideout to the dystopian, dusty half of LA, everything’s a pristine VFX craft book that you cannot help but marvel at. It’s as if the makers went all hammer and tongs in the ambition of leveling up the visual extravaganza that the 1982 flick provided with. And suffice to say, they’ve resoundingly succeeded on that count. A special mention to cinematography by the veteran Roger Daekins, who even at 68, hasn’t failed to deliver by any accounts and continues to amuse all and sundry. Blade Runner 2049 is a deftly maneuvered ploy, harnessing every emotion and circumstances to ennobling quality. Its the dearth of soul in the story coupled with its dawdling pace that spoils your viewing. Although Gosling, who appears in almost every frame of the movie, as well as the rest of the supporting cast do an admirable job, the movie never takes off despite promising in fits and starts. Every time Gosling ventures into the dark and dusky outing, there’s a simmering tension, but one that never completely boils over. The sense of anticipation of something truly magnificent transpiring always leads to a disappointing, damp squib. Director Villeneuve deserves all the credit for his impeccable showpiece of visual enchantment, but forgets to inject a sparkle that would’ve light up the experience. Watch it only for two hours and 43 minutes of non-stop VFX exhibition. A Warner Bros. Pictures distribution, Blade Runner 2049 releases in India on 6 October 2017.