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Blade Runner 2049

It can be said that the sequel to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is one of the most anticipated films of the year. It is impossible to escape the excitement of it; from the stunning images that peppered articles discussing the film, to interviews and sightings done by the film's star powers, and the trailer to boast it all. The addition of it being helmed by Denis Villeneuve gives the film a certain expectation, as not only is the original considered a classic, but Villeneuve has been churning amazing films. I watched this knowing nothing about the sequel, and with no expectations. I was very surprised, not because it was an incredible film, but because I was already anticipating another viewing even before I finished the film. *spoilers ahead*

Blade Runner 2049 is set in the year 2049, where new models of replicants have been produced after older models are deemed to be rebellious and disastrous to society. These older models are currently being retired with hunters being known as blade runners. K is a replicant and a blade runner. He lives in a society where replicants are monitored to ensure that they are not going rogue, and where he is detested because of what he does. The film opens with his latest assignment, getting rid of an older model. When he scanned the location, he finds an object buried. When unearthed, it was revealed to be a set of bones from a replicant who was pregnant. This is the first that they have heard of a replicant reproducing, thus begins his search for answers that leads to the unravelling of his being. 

The film was absolutely stunning. The color palette, the set design, the framing of the scenes - the film is a work of art. Roger Deakins does a tremendous job with this film. It's impossible to find fault in the visuals. The story was clear and straightforward. Every scene in the film was necessary for the narrative; it makes the objectives clear, and doesn't muddle the plot with unnecessary details that don't compliment the central plot. The story still manages to make the film alluring and have depth beyond the surface of the plot. 

This was a Ryan Gosling vehicle, and he gives a lot of his presence in the role. The narrative was reliant on the direction K was taking his inquisitiveness in. This was a character who was programmed to think and obey, but his private interactions may indicate otherwise. This was manifested through his relationship with Joi. While the monitoring tests show that he is still a programmed replicant, his want to touch and feel and be with Joi is evident. This plays in multiple scenes, even wordless interactions captured beautifully on film. It even got into the point where Joi has 'synced' with a surrogate body to be physically intimate with K. When he discovers that an implanted memory of his was real and he might be the child he seeks, she was the one who gave him his 'human' name, and he ends up using it to identify himself. Their relationship is intimate to a point where there is a blur between the line where he is still the mandated replicant and a self-thinking, feeling one.

The villain of the story comes in the form of Wallace, the creator of the new model of replicants, who wanted to use the child for his business. The physical manifestation of this villainy was through Luv, his enforcer. The nature of Luv is telling of the development replicants have, and the inevitability of a war that will take place. The character does have a three-dimensional side even if she was just sent to do her boss's bidding. Jared Leto is ideal for the role, but he was underused. His role and Luv's role could have been absorbed by one character. While it does make sense that he would use someone else to do his dirty deeds, he could have been in the film more. His short appearances though were rather meaningful, at least he was there at pivotal parts of the narrative. Luv was such a badass character but she had some cringe-worthy lines that takes me out from the tone of her character. She could have said something else that was more in line with her persona.

Two thirds of the way in, K's investigation leads him to Deckard. Back in the beginning, it was revealed that the pregnant replicant was Rachael, and that she had a connection to a blade runner named Deckard. It is through this detail that connects K's narrative with the original's storyline. It is through this that the sequel feels like a homage to the original. The other characters in the film could have been completely random, and it would still end up with K finding himself in the presence of a rebellion.

The original film was released years ago, and with its details at play here, is it necessary to watch the original in order to enjoy this sequel? Yes, and no. My first and only viewing of Blade Runner was back in 2014 so I am not the best person to dissect the original film with. However, the viewing of the original film gives the audience a faster grasp of the links and the themes that the movie wants to explore. However, I think it would still be an enjoyable film even without prior knowledge as it does a good job explaining the setting and the world behind it. The sequel though will make revisiting the original film worthwhile, and watch both films side by side.

The film isn't short, but it gives the right amount of detail that would both leave audiences anticipating for what is next while satisfying the need for an amazing film. The way things ended seemed like another will be on the works, but I like how this all left off without wanting another film. The root of both the original and the sequel is the existential crisis both main characters experience, and anything that leads the narrative off that wouldn't correlate with the films' initial point. This was another wonderful piece by Denis Villeneuve, a must-not-miss for the year. 

Comments

  1. It's definitely a film that needs to be seen on the big screen. It's not entirely surprising that it's not doing well in the box office given how long it is and how complex the whole film is. Yet, we must remember that the original film wasn't a box office hit either when it first came out.

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  2. Great review! I enjoyed this too, it was a stunning film. The star of it for me was Roger Deakins, his cinematography was gorgeous.

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