Blade Runner 2049 - A Second Chance
Daniel O'Sullivan | 25/04/2019
For decades, cinema has been at the forefront for creative storytelling and the sharing of individual ideas and passions. No matter if its without sound, without colour or without a wide release, films have still helped connect us as a people. Though this remains true in 2020, the film industry is no different to any other business in the sense that a profit margin is one of the foremost concerns when greenlighting and distributing movies. With that said, there are countless films that may not have made their studios a sizeable sum upon their release, but succeed in providing exceptional storytelling, breathtaking visuals and displaying powerful performances that deserve a second chance.
One such film was Blade Runner: 2049, the 2017 follow-up to Ridley Scott’s original 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. Blade Runner: 2049 follows Officer K (played by Ryan Gosling), a synthetic replicant responsible for tracking and “retiring” replicants with a troubled record. Upon discovering that a replicant may have given birth to a miracle child, Officer K is tasked with eliminating this child in order to maintain the already strained social order. His investigation forces him to cross paths with former Blade Runner and protagonist of the original film, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). The two must navigate a hostile futuristic Los Angeles, shady corporations and even the law in order to uncover the truth. But with an incredibly talented director Denis Villeneuve at the helm, two powerhouse leads, and the legacy that comes with the Blade Runner name, why is Blade Runner: 2049 considered a failure?
Why It's A Failure
Well first and foremost, it comes down to the numbers. With an estimated budget of $150 million USD, Warner Bros. and Sony were seemingly looking for Blade Runner: 2049 to make Star Wars level money at the box office, with this being far from the reality. With an opening US domestic weekend of just under $33 million USD (well below average) and a total worldwide gross of $259 million USD, the numbers just didn’t work in Warner Bros. or Sony’s favour.
Though still making a profit, this was far from what both the producers and the audience were expecting the film to rake in, despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews that it garnered (including a 5-star review from us). Furthermore, though the films length provides an incredibly detailed and intriguing plot, it ultimately attributed to the film’s lacklustre performance. Clocking in at 164 minutes (close to 3 hours long), cinemas were forced to show fewer screenings of the film, which ultimately means there is limited time and space for audiences to view it. But despite these financial shortcomings, Blade Runner: 2049 is still being lauded as one of the best sequels of all time.
Why It Deserves A Second Chance
From it’s beautiful and Academy Award winning visuals courtesy of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, tightly crafted script and incredible performances from Gosling, Ford and the rest of the cast, Blade Runner: 2049 truly deserves this praise. A frequent collaborator of Villeneuve’s, Roger Deakins ensures that each frame of this film is portrait-worthy, and the sheer beauty of the numerous landscape shots does wonders to ensure the audience is fully immersed in this neo-noir world. The visual effects are just as impressive, with Ana de Armas’ A.I. character Joi being a true standout in this regard, and though the action scenes are few and far between, the combination of tense choreography and sound mixing is sure to have the audience on the edge of their seats. Lastly, the story itself is truly remarkable. With a tense and visceral cop noir investigation being at the heart of it, it also manages to toy with some heavy themes such as gender equality, classism, and even ideas of God Complex.
Though it may not have made as much money as what the executives at Warner Bros. or Sony were hoping, Blade Runner: 2049 succeeded in providing audiences with an emotional and visceral story that everyone can connect to. With some truly breathtaking visuals, tense and thematic score, and fully committed performances from its entire cast, Blade Runner: 2049 most definitely deserves your time and attention. Luckily enough, it’s now streaming on Netflix.