Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017), directed by Dennis Villeneuve, written by Hampton Fancher, Michael Green, based on characters created by Philip K. Dick, starring Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Harrison Ford

I am relieved. Relieved, because there was a lot that could have gone wrong with Blade Runner 2049, it being a continuation to a cult classic sci-fi movie shot in the 1980's by a director know of his great eye on visuals, if not always to story. Blade Runner is one of my all-time favourite movies, which made somewhat aprrehensive towards a movie directed over 30 years later by a different director. 

Before I'm going to spoil the movie for you, let me just say, that 2049 wasn't the travesty I feared it could have been. It's not as good as the original movie is, but as a whole, it is an interesting continuation on not only the themes of the original story but to the world itself it exists. It is, at times, leaning towards nostalgic cues, be them by visuals, sound effects, music or even characters and there's no denying it helps if you've seen either the directors cut or the Final Cut of the original movie. That said, it still is a visually stunning movie, that manages to tell an interesting story that somehow manages to stand on its own feet, as it does have enough exposure to things past.

And now, from here onwards I'm not going to spare you from spoilers. So, if you've not seen the movie, stop now and return later. Otherwise, feel free to continue.

California, 2049. A lone speeder is flying over greying field lands. Its lone passenger, K (Gossling) is a Blade Runner,  a replicant hunter, chasing down pre-collapse models that had too much autonomy for their own good.  Spoiler, K himself is a replicant, a thing that is soon revealed when he gets to a scuffle with Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), a hulking protein farmer, who is one of those overly autonomous replicants. Interestingly enough, I'm certain that this opening scene is one that was originally penned for the Blade Runner. A

BEfore K heads back to Los Angeles, he finds something buried under a dead, petrifying tree. He marks it for further investigation and gets his baselines checked at the headquarters, where human cops make certain their own views of a skinjob doing cops work.

We see some of what K does and how people around him see him. Lieutenant Joshi (Wright) appreciates him there where the rest of the world might not. K makes results and that's good enough for her. There's even a suggestion she might have feelings towards K, but he is more interested of his artificial holographic companion Joi (Ana de Armas), whom he treats with a projector allowing her to leave his apartment.

Buried under the tree was a skeleton of a woman, apparently died in childbirth. There are marks on her, making that certain but then K notices something: the woman was a replicant. An artificial being that can conceive children, a new potential threat. The last trick Eldon Tyrell, long since dead created. That's the driver of the story, something K is after in order to destroy it. But that's also something Wallace (Jared Leto), the new owner of all things Tyell corporations skeletons wants.

The hunt takes K from a retired Balde Runner Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to a filthy orphanage to another retired Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Ford), who is the father of the child. The mother of the child was Rachael (Sean Young), the experimental replicant from the original story and who finally escaped with Deckard after falling in love with him.

What is more human than to sacrifice oneself in order to save someone is what K goes by in the end. Having realized the miracle, he ends up rescuing Deckard before the goons of Wallace's can take him in order to get information from him.

Mortally wounded K doesn't answer when Deckard asks what he's to him. K has escorted Deckard to the person he knows to be the daughter the old Blade Runner let dissolve into the world in order to protect her, to keep her out from the harm's way. The two are finally united, the human father and the half replicant daughter, while, content of this miracle, K draws his final breath.

The most glaring issue I had with Blade Runner 2049 is, that it is perhaps a tad too long. With a duration of whopping 164 minutes, I couldn't help but feel there was some extra fat to be trimmed from here and there. Ten or twenty minutes less could have done miracles to the structure of it. But other than that, it is a visually beautiful movie, with a story that carries it to the end. The soundtrack is good, albeit not very original, woking up the themes of Vangelis. It isn't a bad choice, mind you, considering that the visuals try to mirror the aesthetics of the original movie as well.

The tugging of the nostalgia strings 2049 has going on is almost devious, little sound cues and little visuals being sown here and there. It's not distracting, as those things do manage to make it feel like a part of the same universe, which is something Ridley Scott's own Alien prequels didn't manage to do as an example.

The acting is mostly great as well. Gosling is good as K, a silent, sympathetic and a bit melancholic replicant hunter doing a job he doesn't really like that much but does anyway because he can't do much else. Harrison Ford shows why he is a good actor, giving more here than he ever did on the Star Wars sequel The Force Awakens. It doesn't really matter if it is just a minor cameo or a bigger role, the cast mostly feels like they gave a damn. Which is something I didn't get from Leto playing Wallace, a role that could have been much grander given to someone else. It could have been a defining role, something that leaves a mark on movie history,  but here I could only see Leto doing Leto in silver contacts.

Blade Runner 2049 wasn't the travesty I feared, far from it. Like I said, it's not a perfect movie, nor is it free of the tugging of nostalgia, but it also is a competent movie on its own right, showing that Villeneuve cared as well as wanted to craft something more of the original material. An in this he succeeded.