Thirty years after the events of the original Blade Runner film a young replicant cop 'K' (Ryan Gosling) is given the task of hunting the last few remaining replicants from the Tyrell Industries era. When he accidentally uncovers a long held secret, the chase is on to keep what is left of society's structures and beliefs intact. The case leads him on a search for Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former legendary blade runner as he may be the key component to unlocking the secret that could shake the foundations beyond repair.
As a moderate fan of the original Blade Runner film the idea of a sequel was an intriguing one. What was the need to revise this bleak dystopian future? What more lessons could we learn about what it means to be human? In short what new life could be breathed into a story of replicant androids and their philosophical conversations of the nature of humanity?
With Denis Villeneuve at the helm, I shouldn't have been concerned. Rapidly becoming one of my favourite directors, Villeneuve is carving out a reputation for cinematic output that has a high level of intelligence with an equally high level of accessibility for the audience. Arrival was everything I wanted from a science fiction film, intelligent ideas presented in a manner that enraptured and captivated, without ever talking down to its audience.Blade Runner 2049 does the exact same thing.
Yes, the conversation about what it means to be human is the key idea here but pull the thread and a labyrinthine web of ideas appears with each strand requiring further exploration.
Environmental concerns are at play within this dystopian LA as 'K's' world is even bleaker and hazier than that of Deceker's Blade Runner. The streets have become grimier than those of thirty ago, highlighting that the issues have not been dealt with and in fact have caused this world to degenerate even further since Deckard walked these same streets.
Technology and reality it creates is also a key component of Blade Runner 2049. K has a piece of software for a wife. Joi (Ana de Armas) fulfils all the functions of a loving relationship except the physical element. However the line of reality often blurs within the film as Joi often appears real. Feeling the rain on her skin and appearing to lovingly caress K at various points, Villeneuve is playing with our notion of reality and how it interacts with our love of technology. In 2017 we can converse with technology in the comfort of our own living rooms, we carry the internet in our pockets and through social media have many connections that in fact are not real. Perhaps Villeneuve is asking us as viewer to consider our own relationships with technology through these characters. Perhaps we all need to reassess which relationships are real and requires greater depth in order for them to become fully alive as Joi appears to be.
A biblical thread also runs through this film as Jared Leto's Wallace quoteOld Testament scripture as basis for events occuring (to explore these treads too closely to spoiling the film) Wallace, whose tech is now king in this world sees himself as a god of creation.He is the creator of things that make the world better and refers to his replicant creations as angels. These however are not messengers of hope declaring a new Messiah, rather in the case of Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) she treads closer to representing the angel of death. Luv strikes down all those who oppose the world Wallace wishes to create therefore making him a much more violent god than the world needs. In my opinion both Wallace and Luv deserved a little more depth and fleshing out than perhaps we received. Both were certainly intriguing enough to deserve more screen time and a little more background to their stories.
That little niggle aside Blade Runner 2049 was ultimately a wonderful cinema experience. An immersive work, stunning to look at, Villeneuve has created a dystopia of great depth with many cavern that require further exploration. I am already anxious to return to this world and see what else I can find within his piece of pure cinema.