Blade Runner 2049 picks up several decades after the original film ends. Many of the same concepts are in place: the nature of resistance, the search for identity, and the permanence of memory but in a more diluted form. Ryan Gosling plays a Blade Runner, who is established early on as being a replicant himself. He is obedient, loyal, and borderline robotic in his reactions to hunting down his own kind. His performance is meant to engender sympathy as the story progresses. He discovers evidence of what could possibly be a world-changing event and heads off into an investigation which ultimately uncovers Harrison Ford’s whereabouts and a much larger (suggested but never fully revealed) rebellion. All of this leads to a two and a half hour plus magnum opus which, while visually stunning, will grind your brain into a smooth paste.
My immediate takeaway is humans will always have to have something to dominate and dick over. We’ve devastated the planet. We’ve annihilated damn near every animal we could find. We create artificial people, replicants, and set them up with short term life spans so as to clear the way for the next iteration. We perfect the process and create lasting replicants who are basically domesticated pets we “retire” when their usefulness runs out or they go rogue. They are given some rights, such as owning/renting property, but on the whole prejudice shifts from natural to manufactured. Case being the term “skin job” in reference to replicants. Is it any wonder why they would rise up against their makers? (I smell a sequel.)
As a movie, it is full of stillness that gets shattered by a very pronounced use of music to rattle people awake. The plot moves along fairly quickly assuming you catch the subtle clues sprinkled throughout. The camera is used almost as a second person watching the main character as he moves from location to location silently digging deeper into a mystery with a “seriously!?!?” set up ending. Gosling plays his role well enough as a man on a quest to discover himself and his true origins. Harrison Ford reprises his role as the original Blade Runner, Rick Deckard. I’ll keep spoilers to myself beyond what I may have already dropped. Needless to say, there is a moment between Ford and Jared Leto (who plays creepy bastard to a tee) which almost caused me to have a stroke because I wanted to yell at the screen. I refrained.
In a nutshell, Blade Runner 2049 is a wait and watch on DVD or Netflix. It takes way too long to get the plot together. It looks marvelous but looks alone can’t save a story stretched a tad too far. Just a little nip and tuck for time would help. In many ways it reminded me of a lot of anime I’ve seen. It drops you off mid-story, gives little (if any) exposition, and the characters are as much set dressing as conduits for the plot. If this had been animated I may have liked it more. All in all, I’m going to rewatch the original and try to put this movie out of my mind.