‘Blade Runner 2049’ – Variety

 In Entertainment
The world as we know it has nearly caught up to the one Ridley Scott imagined when he directed the 2019-set “Blade Runner,” and yet, for all the influence the dystopian cult favorite has had on other sci-fi movies, Scott’s vision of Los Angeles still looks as mind-blowingly futuristic now as it did in 1982. That may well explain why its sequel, the Denis Villeneuve-directed “Blade Runner 2049,” doesn’t feel the need to reinvent the world in which it takes place, but instead is free to delve deep into the existential concerns suggested by the earlier film, as screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who also co-wrote the original) and Michael Green raise evocative questions about human-android relations and the nuances that will one day be used to tell them apart.

Sure as it is to delight “Blade Runner” fans, this stunningly elegant follow-up doesn’t depend on having seen the original — and like 2010’s “Tron: Legacy,” may actually play better to those who aren’t wedded to the franchise’s muddled off-screen mythology. As it happens, in both tone and style, the new film owes more to slow-cinema maestro Andrei Tarkovsky than it does to Scott’s revolutionary cyberpunk sensibility. In fact, at 2 hours and 44 minutes, “Blade Runner 2049” clocks in at three minutes longer than the austere Russian auteur’s “Stalker.” But Villeneuve earns every second of that running time, delivering a visually breathtaking, long-fuse action movie whose unconventional thrills could be described as many things — from tantalizing to tedious — but never “artificially intelligent.”

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