Blade Runner

This worthy sequel is a feast for the eyes and ears. The heart? Not so much.

As he did with last year’s science fiction for smarties Arrival, Denis Villeneuve sets his pensive thriller in a world that is terrifying yet spectacular to look at. This dark, not all that far off in the future Los Angeles, is now often buried under a layer of snow. It is still lit by neon signs for Atari and naked girls for hire. The action, and boy, is there a lot of it in 164 minutes, centers on blade running police officer K, played by an enigmatic Ryan Gosling. Taking out a renegade replicant, K stumbles upon a mysterious secret, one that might push the already precarious world into even further chaos.

Yes, the visuals are awesome. One scene after the other, based on the concepts of the original screenwriter Hampton Fancher, is set on backdrops that continuously wow, and to a reverberating soundtrack. Cinematographer Roger Deakins makes it look increasingly gorgeous. But as time forges on and the impeccably detailed story grows more and more dense, the scenes feel oddly weighted, not only drawing attention away from this story about soul, but leaving us wondering if there isn’t a little internal ‘can you top this’ going on.

Intently ambitious (and I’ll always applaud that), this sequel is respectful, immersive and exhausting. We’re pulled in by the intensity, but never, at least for me, by the emotion. Scenes that should devastate are played at the same intensity (yes, there’s that word again) as scenes that shouldn’t, giving us a ride that’s remarkable but not, at its core, satisfying. A movie about soul and the search for humanity shouldn’t feel this constant and cold.