I liked this movie: 3.5 Stars.
The movie is well made but I hasten to add it is long (2h 43mins) and often slow paced. And is really only suited to fans of either the movie’s director Denis Villeneuve or, the prequel Blade Runner movie, directed by Ridley Scott and released in 1982. (One of the original screenwriters, Hampton Francher, continues on with this film). Also, it seems to be a movie that loads detail and elusive cryptic information together that may take many viewers more than one viewing to fully appreciate the story.
Now, this movie holds special meaning for me as it was the first movie I went to see on my own (at the Croydon Cinema) so I could review (tell my friends about it). Now, 35 years later, I’m technically doing the same thing.
The prequel, written by the prolific Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick, was set in the dystopic future (early 21st Century) and the sequel is set a further 30 years after that. LAPD Officer K (Gosling) is a Blade Runner; these are special law enforcement officers whose purpose it is to ‘retire’ or kill hiding replicants on earth.
Replicants are a strong and smart humanoid ‘slave’ android originally designed by the Tyrell Corporation for off-world mining and other heavy lifting; some with Pinocchio human-type fantasies mutiny or escape and make their way back to earth and must be dealt with.
As I watched the prequel, I remember thinking as a child that the world of the future looks in bad shape, the movie says the story is set in early 21st century but we can deduce by the four year life spans of the Nexus 6 replicants (one was born in April 2017) and the title of the sequel (2049) that Blade Runner was originally set in Los Angeles about 2019-20.
Now, we are two years away from this date and the world is not nearly as bad or bleak as it was portrayed back then i.e. massive urban sprawl of LA, overpopulation, pollution inducing weather anomalies of constant rain. Now, come to think of it, the movie was prophetic in many ways.
However, in the movie, Hover cars are the common means of transport (I think these are still in the prototype stage). Paramilitary style police force certainly exists in many US cities and the huge 3D images displayed on the side of city skyscrapers I recently saw on my trip to Hong Kong. A few misses were no mobile phones and the primitive computers occasionally shown were as fat as the original Apple Macs that were selling at the time in the early 80s.
Now fast forward to 30 years later, Deckard is still alive and K is looking for him to help solve a replicant related mystery.
I usually find that movies that deal with bio engineered androids, robots, cyborgs or in this case replicants; that are generally indistinguishable from real human beings, the movie inevitably delves in to the ‘palm and back of the hand’ pondering existential questions of what it means to be human. Classic examples include: Ai, Bicentennial Man, I, Robot, Terminator, Chappie and the excellent Ex Machina as well as the new Alien trilogy delves into this subject as well.
Do our emotions, consciousness or being creative make us uniquely human? Can emotions be programmed? Will robots with Artificial Intelligence learn and adapt become conscious and be creative as well? What of the possibilities; could they ever turn on us like Rutger Hauer’s character, Roy Batty, in the prequel? Hauer famously summed up his own philosophical ideas in a classic ad libbing scene where, in the pouring rain, his dying character speaking to Deckard recounting some amazing scenes from his life, poetically states: ‘all those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain,’ (apparently, he got a round of applause from the film crew and they kept the scene in the movie).
This futuristic movie goes a step further and in a similar mould to the Jurassic Park bio engineering nightmare scenario (where the refining process of evolution takes over) and ‘nature finds a way.’ Yes, you heard right a human and synthetic ‘human’ replicant reproduce.
In the first Blade Runner, the movie ends with Rick Deckard and his advanced replicant girlfriend Rachel flying off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Well, as it turns out, the prequel suggests they got ‘busy’ in their hideaway and a child was born. The social consequences of this replicant childbirth are too chaotic to consider and the LAPD Blade Runner Chief, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) makes the retirement of this individual a priority and presses Officer K to conclude the matter. A Tyrell-type replicant perfecting Corporation, led by the blind but far-seeing sociopath Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) has its own agenda.
Blade Runner 2049 is well made and the standout feature, apart from the well directed stunning visual scenery, is the powerful sound effects that often eerily evokes suspense and dread in much of the post apocalyptic scenery.
I enjoyed this movie: 3.5 stars.
Take Care & Cheers
P.S For many years, Blade Runner movie buffs suggested that Rick Deckard was in fact a replicant; that question is finally put to rest in this movie. However, the screenwriters appear to have taken notice of the theories.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screen Writers: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green, Philip K. Dick
Music: Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.