Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049 (Spoilers!)

“Blade Runner 2049”, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece “Blade Runner”, is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated films and sequels of the year, given how much the first film left an impact on pop culture and on science fiction itself. Because of that, many were curious as to what direction the sequel would go. Thankfully, under the careful direction of Denis Villeneuve with the amazing cinematography of Roger Deakins and with top tier talent such as Robin Wright and Ryan Gosling, they were able to make a film that wasn’t just a great sequel, but a great science fiction movie in and of itself. Personally, this gorgeous movie reminded me of why I love science fiction in the first place.

“Blade Runner 2049”, which is now being deemed as one of “the greatest sequels of all time”, was directed by Denis Villeneuve, and features the cinematography of Roger Deakins, and music by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. It starred Ryan Gosling, Ana de Amas, Robin Wright, Harrison Ford, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, and Edward James Olmos.

The performances that each actor gave exceeded my expectations, and in particular, the performances that truly stood out to me were those done by Ana de Amas, Harrison Ford and, of course, by Ryan Gosling. Their performances had me transfixed on them during the entire movie, waiting to see what they could give us next.

I knew how much Ford could give, especially after watching the first movie, but Gosling exceeded my expectations as I haven’t really seen much of his work, and the same also goes for de Amas.

What was interesting was that they were able to really build upon the original “Blade Runner” world, as it had the same aesthetics, and feel to it (which was also greatly helped by the score emulating Vangelis’ original work in 1982), while still expanding upon it and giving us something new, such as new technological advances and new locations.

The visuals and cinematography were just as gorgeous as it was in the first film, and is truly a feast for the eyes. This is one movie which you should definitely watch on the big screen.

The story was compelling and great, as it is not only thought provoking with its themes, but as  it slowly and carefully unpacked the main story line and mystery in the span of almost three hours. To be honest, I really loved how it was slowly revealed to the audience, as it got me thinking, and there were also a couple of interesting twists and surprises thrown in as well. As I do love a good mystery story, I preferred the main mystery that had to be solved over the one in the original.

Many might be daunted by the  fact that this movie is almost three hours long, but that pacing just about sounds right as it is “Blade Runner”, and because Villenueve made it deliberately quieter than the first film. (However, you’ll really have to time your potty breaks well so that you don’t miss anything too important).

In the end, Villeneuve not only paid tribute to the original “Blade Runner” by emulating its aesthetic, music, and by building upon and continuing the story set in motion by the original movie; but he also created a stunningly beautiful movie that is its own movie in and of itself. Because of this, it is such a shame that it seems as if this film is greatly underperforming at the box office.

Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!

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Just like the original “Blade Runner”, the main character of this story, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), is a Blade Runner (someone who hunts down rogue Replicants), and it also had a mystery that needed to be solved. However, in this movie, K is a newer Replicant model, one that is more obedient as compared to the older models like the Nexus 6 ones.

In “Blade Runner 2049’s” case, Officer K was tasked to investigate, track down, and kill the first ever child to be born by a Replicant, and in this case, this particular child is the child of Rachael (Sean Young) and Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).

His investigation, however, gained the interest of Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), (the movie’s version of Tyrell, a businessman who not only sells products such as newer models of Replicants and almost sentient virtual assistants), who want the child to further his own product lines. Wallace then sends out his Replicant assistant, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) to get the child as soon as K finds it.

This investigation not only leads K to discover Deckard and the Replicant Freedom Movement, but it also causes him to question his own identity due to the fact that he seems to have a memory that is real and his own, and not just the usual implant.

In the end, however, he discovers that he was only the decoy, and that the memory implanted in him that made him think that he was Rachael’s child, was implanted in him by Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri), a young woman who creates memory implants for Replicants and who lives in a quarantined space due to a supposed sickness.

There is one moment in which K begins to contemplate suicide, because he had lost everything for nothing, and then in the next scene, he decides to help Deckard escape from Luv, and stages Deckard’s death before leading him to his daughter, all before K succumbs to his wounds.

Alongside K’s journey of self-discovery and purpose is how Joi (Ana de Amas), a holographic but seemingly sentient Virtual Assistant or companion slowly becomes more and more human like through the experiences she has with him, evolving to the point that she ends up having genuine feelings for K.

Aside from the fact that her technology is a thing of wonder, the themes surrounding Joi, and K, all reflect the same themes that have been present since the first film- what is it to be human, and if beings such as Replicants or virtual assistants like Joi should be considered almost human and not merely as just tools to get things done.

This was wonderfully explored with Joi and K, and just like the original film, it was interesting that the female protagonists are the ones who make their respective Blade Runners question their own existence and purpose in this particular world.

Speaking of technology, voice activated drones sound like something that isn’t too far off from now.

Interestingly enough, after watching the movie, I couldn’t help but draw parallelisms to how different groups reacted to Rachael’s child to “Battlestar Galactica’s” Hera Agethon, the child that was brought about by the union of a Cylon (robot) and a human being. For the Cylons, it represented the next stage of their evolution, but humans feared it. It was the same thing here as well, but it was done in a way that didn’t seem too familiar.

Oh, and if you think that this film will answer the whole question about whether Deckard is a Replicant or not, think again. This film left it just as ambiguous as the first movie, except this time around, I have to believe that Deckard is human.

As I mentioned earlier, the visuals and the aesthetic of the film were just as gorgeous as the first movie’s. There was the red hazy dust of the Las Vegas dessert, the grimy and gritty streets typical of the “Blade Runner” world, the raindrops on the car windshield and the water washing all over Deckard’s car towards the end of the movie, that scene in which three flying police car’s lights pierced the inky darkness of the night sky by moving in sync with each other, and the way K fell slowly onto steps covered with snow while Stelline allows holographic snow to fall on her before her father steps into the room.

Also, there were some interesting call backs to the first movie, from showing a Replicant Rachael, all the way to Gaff (Edward James Olmos), who, as usual, was making another origami figure.

Despite all of this, the biggest thing that left an impact on me was the fact that it had been a long time since I’ve seen a really good science fiction movie, and it reminded me why I love the genre in the first place. Science fiction allows you to not only explore themes like those in “Blade Runner 2049”, but it allows you to imagine what technologies mankind might be able to explore and create in the future.

In the end, “Blade Runner 2049” is a movie that not only had great performances, story and visual effects, but it is now a film close to my heart because it rejuvenated my love for science fiction itself. Also, this is a film that not only paid tribute to the cult classic film, but managed to stand on its own as well.

What did you think of “Blade Runner 2049”? Do you think Deckard’s human or a Replicant? Did you see that final plot twist coming? What did you think of K’s and Joi’s individual journeys throughout the movie? What did you like and not like? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

 

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