‘Blade Runner 2049’ delivers

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Do memories make us human? Because we can remember what anger, love or pain feels like, does that mean we have a soul?  These are only some of the questions at the forefront of the neo-noir science-fiction film “Blade Runner 2049.

“2049” is the direct sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott classic “Blade Runner.”  The original film starred Harrison Ford in a dystopian Los Angeles as a wash-out named Rick Deckard whose job as a blade runner is to hunt down and kill synthetic human ‘Replicants’ that have gone rogue.

In the sequel, which takes place 30 years after Deckard disappeared with a Replicant he fell in love with, Ryan Gosling takes the lead as a blade runner called ‘K’ (short for KD6-3.7). He’s tasked with uncovering a long-hidden secret that connects Deckard’s mysterious past with an unsettling future.

The ensemble gives its all in this film—Gosling leads the pack with a moving performance wherein the audience watches ‘K’ slowly transform from an emotionally reserved killer into a distraught being searching for meaning. Ford follows suit with a devastating portrayal of an older Deckard who has suffered immensely over the last 30 years. This performance is one of the best of his career.

Jared Leto as Niander Wallace is technically the lead antagonist as the eponymous leader of the Wallace Company, the only corporation allowed to make ­­Replicants.

However, Leto is overshadowed by his henchwoman Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), who is terrifying any time she is on screen. Hoeks nearly steals the show from the rest of cast. Luv is hellbent on uncovering the same answers ‘K’ seeks, before he can.

Hoeks gives Luv an intimidating presence that only adds a greater intensity to the violent acts she commits. She is ruthless and calculated, giving the feeling that no character is safe that she is around.

“Blade Runner 2049” was masterfully brought to life by director Denis Villeneuve and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is their third collaboration, preceded by the highly-acclaimed films “Prisoners” (2013) and “Sicario” (2015).  With ‘2049,’ they have created yet another  visual feast that is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Every frame drips with rich shadows, riveting color palettes and brilliant set pieces that blend seamlessly with CGI. The film provides cinephiles a master class in cinematic excellence. The jaw-dropping visuals will leave viewers scratching their heads as to how the movie was pulled off.

The cast and crew put in a tremendous amount of effort that shows throughout the nearly three-hour runtime. It’s hard to sustain a compelling story with equally captivating story with equally captivating sets and performances for that long, yet “2049” pulls it off seemingly effortlessly.

This big-budget sci-fi epic is a respectful worthy successor to the original but magnificent all on its own.

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