One of things Lily and I talked about, before watching Blade Runner 2049 was whether or not we could take with us, people who haven’t seen the original version, Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner. I deduced that yes, they would probably make a movie that can stand alone, it’ll be beneficial too, finance wise, not to alienate non-fans. After actually seeing Blade Runner 2049, I still stand by that answer. It can stand alone yes, but having seen the original gives a much deeper viewing experience. So I recommend to devote 1 hour and 57 minutes for the original, and then catch this one on the big screen (because it is definitely made to be seen in one).
One of the things that made me love Ridley Scott’s version was his vision of dystopian, noirish L.A. The perpetually wet, smoky and grimy LA, with garish neon lights punctuating the dark background. With Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the magic of an immersive world is pretty much still there. L.A. is still wet, and smoky and grimy, and they even kept certain details from the old movie, like the Atari and Pan Am logo, and the whole Asian invasion thing, which I thought was a nice touch that gives the two movies a sense of continuity. But no, this is not the same old dog. The world has expanded a great deal to include new eye candy set pieces that range from Wallace’s water themed hell house, to a bombed out Las Vegas with humongous naked women statues (this is by far, my favorite set piece!). Throw in a Hans Zimmer synth score ( be warned, this movie is loud), and Roger Deakins’ genius, and you’ve got an Oscar worthy film. If Deakins doesn’t win one for this, I think the world should self-combust.
Now 30 years since the replicant kerfuffle, the Blade Runner world has changed a great deal. Tyrrell Corp. has gone bankrupt, acquired by new player, Wallace Corporation. They still make replicants of course, but more subservient ones, or so they say, and can be terminated whenever (hence, it no longer has the 4-year life span of the old models that are the Nexus 6). Blade Runners like Agent K (Ryan Gosling) still exist and their main job is retiring the remaining rogue Nexus 7 and 8 models, most of them are in hiding. On one of his retiring jobs, Agent K finds a box buried underneath a tree and what is inside leads him on a trail towards Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a blade runner missing for thirty years, and possibly towards something bigger than the both of them.
Blade Runner 2049 just like the original is a bit of a slow burn. Aside from one to four crunchy, fisticuffs, there are no cyborg vs human battles, or blow-em ups, or chase sequences. This is the kind of sci-fi that is mostly philosophical. What does it mean to be human? What is a soul? What makes a person’s identity? What is love? Does an A.I. holographic pleasure model experience love or is merely acting according to programming? I must say, the whole Joi (played by the disarming Ana De Armas!) and K love story is a lovely addition to the quandaries already present. The movie’s emotional pull is never found wanting. It is enhanced even more by Ryan Gosling’s and Harrison Ford’s amazing performance. My sister even remarked as to whether or not Harrison Ford hated coming back as Han Solo, because here he is just so invested in Deckard’s character, he acted the shizzles out of this movie, something we have never seen him do in any of his revived films including The Force Awakens.
If I have one gripe, it’s that the gratuitous violence found in some scenes, mostly involving Wallace (Jared Leto being all Jared Leto) and his right-hand woman/replicant, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks who is so amazingly bad-ass in this role). Let’s just say they do some slashing and shooting and whacking that serves no purpose other than for shock factor. I mean Wallace is a megalomaniac with a god complex, sure, but he is also, first and foremost a businessman. So why kill replicants with wild abandon, especially when he is griping that he cannot make them faster than he should for his world domination scheme? Makes absolutely no sense.
But that is a minor thing compared to the sensory experience that is Blade Runner 2049! And the plot won’t disappoint you either! A red herring take us for quite a ride and throws us off the trail skillfully. As far as sequels go, this is one of the good ones. Please, please go see it in the big screen. I am begging because I heard that this hasn’t been doing pretty good during the first few days of screening. And it kind of makes me sad because this is the kind of movie that deserves to be seen and to be made more often! Not lost, like tears in the rain. Ugh. I couldn’t help it. Sorry.
And if you’ve seen this movie, do settle an argument my sister and I have been having for days, is Rick Deckard a darned replicant or a darned human? (He’s a replicant! Signs point to this! My sister says otherwise! And it is driving me nuts!)
Rating: 5/5 Stars