While the returning actors are important to the story's progression, there are quite a few newcomers to the franchise that stand out with bold performances. Ryan Gosling's (Drive, La La Land, The Big Short) third team-up with Villeneuve might be his best yet. Gosling's character is reminiscent of Ford's character, but with more twists and turns right off the bat. Ana de Armas (Hands of Stone), Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Beowulf), and Sylvia Hoeks (The Best Offer) are fantastic female characters that Hollywood often overlooks with blockbuster casting. Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club) is also thrown into the casting mix as a haunting and creepy villain-esque personality. Blade Runner 2049 is full of brave performances that sequels often lack.
This follow-up to the original film is even richer in content and digital effects. The landscapes are eerie and yet shockingly beautiful. CGI constantly graces the screen, but still feels like real life is being portrayed in front of us. The technology is a paradise for gamers, with effervescent screens everywhere. The land is dull, but everything that is built on top of the land is architectural perfection. Clearly these are updated effects from the original, which was expected for a film coming out 35 years later.
I was more shocked by the actual content throughout the film. I argue that no scene is wasted in Blade Runner 2049. Every single scene holds meaning for the overall storyline, which is hard to admit for a film that has a runtime over two-and-a-half hours. This is a film that can reveal new ideas every time I rewatch it, which will undoubtedly happen. For some reason, the storyline reminds me of Christopher Nolan's (The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar) mind bending filmography. I highly recommend watch the film and then having dinner with friends to discuss it's meaning.
The Bottom Line: Villeneuve once again displays his mastery of filmmaking with this effervescent follow-up to the original Blade Runner.