Watching “Blade Runner 2049” is a uniquely unsatisfying experience. It’s clear that director Denis Villeneuve has a reverence for the original 1982 Ridley Scott classic, and goes out of his way to recall its predecessor every chance he gets. That proves to be a double-edged sword, as Villeneuve seems so concerned with recreating the stunning mood, tone and visuals of the original that he forgets he’s directing a movie of his own. As a result, the narrative is stiff and portentous, much more interested in appearing operatic and impressive than actually being those things, and the result is a preposterous three-hour running time with enough material to fill about half that. The acting is surprisingly negligible, with a blank Ryan Gosling marauding through the proceedings with little energy or spark, while Jared Leto makes occasional, baffling appearances that don’t add up to much. Ultimately the movie never convinces the audience that its story is worth telling, and instead plays as something of a spirit sibling to Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho,” in that it fetishises its source material from a technical perspective but forgets the humanity at the heart of cinema.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)