“Blade Runner 2049” is a faulty replicant
Note: This review contains plot details
The SEQUELS of sci-fi thrillers tend to be bigger, stronger, more expensive, and more expensive than their predecessors, and that’s if they come out after two or three years. Imagine how much bigger and louder a sequel could be if it were made after 35 years, and you’ll get a feel for how “Blade Runner 2049 ″ stems from Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic.
Unlike most current sci-fi hits, the original “Blade Runner” was a low-budget, low-budget indie thread. But the follow-up, directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), prides itself on its expansive scale, volume and vibrating intensity from the pulsating electronic score to the endless sweep of its hazy dystopian cityscapes. There is a repeated insistence that the fate of the galaxy is on the line, and many long, brooding close-ups, many of whose eyes are filled with tears.
How awesome is “Blade Runner 2049”? Well, it features a woman named “Luv” and another named “Joi” (no sign of “Peece” or “Blyss”, mind you), so Mr. Villeneuve and his team were clearly convinced that they were. make a deep epic existential. It would have been easier to agree with them, however, if the story (by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green) wasn’t so thin and threadbare, or so riddled with holes.
Freely adapted from “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” the replicants: realistic and super strong androids who rebelled against their human masters. Deckard is back in the sequel, but it’s been almost two hours in a 160-minute movie before we see him. Despite his prominence in the posters and in the trailer, the adorably grizzled Mr. Ford has little more than a cameo.
Before his Ben Gunn-style reappearance, we meet another cop, Ryan Gosling’s Officer K. He’s handsome and wears a long leather coat and walks around as slowly as he can, but he’s never as likable as Deckard. During a routine robot shooting mission, K discovers a chest filled with human bones or, ultimately, replicant bones. Back at police headquarters, a forensic scientist determines that the bones belonged to a woman who has already given birth. It’s a revelation that shakes the world, as it proves that replicants are an autonomous species that deserve equal rights.
Or does he do it? While humans have been happy to treat replicants like disposable items for decades, it’s hard to see why a child would change someone’s attitude. It’s also hard to see why the designers of the replicants gave them ovaries in the first place if the thought of procreation worried them so much. Fortunately, no one brings up any of these points in the movie. Instead, K’s tough boss (Robin Wright, who looks like he’s stepped out of the “Judge Dredd” comic), orders him to find and “remove” the miracle child. Meanwhile, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), a mogul who now runs the replication business, has his own take on the issue. He thinks he could create a lot more replicants if only they could biologically reproduce, so he’s just as eager as K to hunt down a born female’s replicant.
Again, this motivation does not stand up to scrutiny. If young Niander has already mass produced “millions” of adult replicants, as he boasts, then his current manufacturing methods must be much faster and simpler than the old way of making babies. They should also involve much less diaper change. The film tries to distract us from this obvious flaw by stating that, basically, Niander is a lunatic. He’s a cartoon supervillain with silver eyes, black kimono-style pajamas, and a habit of wandering around his painfully chic but impractical lair, reciting his plans to a sidekick who must have heard them from thousands. of times before. In short, for all its pomp and pretense, “Blade Runner 2049” is a Hollywood superhero blockbuster at heart: the kind of bombastic, effects-packed movie that expects you to be speechless. in front of the show and that you don’t think too much about logic.
And so he has a villain (Sylvia Hoeks), seemingly based on the unstoppable cyborg from “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”, who can repeatedly walk into a police station, murder someone, and then exit again ( there are no security cameras in the future, apparently). He has a team of murderous villains who are kind enough to beat the hero up and then leave him sprawled on the ground, when it would have been a lot smarter to either kill him or take him with them. And it has an unresolved plot that serves to set up another sequel, in order to keep the franchise going.
If “Blade Runner 2049” seems to be more artistic than a typical sci-fi blockbuster, it’s partly because its heavy pacing and dismal tone demands that you take it seriously, and partly because it is. so impressive visually and audibly. Shot by Roger Deakins, several Oscar nominees, it sends K through a series of misty, beautifully desolate and color-coordinated wasteland, each stranger and more magnificent than the next. Granted, Mr. Villeneuve leans on the neo-noir rainbow designs that made “Blade Runner” so atmospheric – all steamy, neon, Asian influences, and multiple languages - but the otherworldly outlook can sometimes convince you. that the film is as important as he thinks it is.
But then you remember all the other tech-noir movies that have come out in the last 35 years. Steven Spielberg wondered if robots could be human in “AI: Artificial Intelligence” (2001). The gargantuan holograms looming over the dark streets resemble those in the recent “Ghost in the Shell” (2017). The hero’s virtual girlfriend (Ana de Armas) is terribly reminiscent of Spike Jonze’s “Her” (2013). As for the hero’s Kafkaesque name, K — wasn’t that what Tommy Lee Jones’ character was called in “Men in Black” (1997)? “Blade Runner 2049” may seem bigger than “Blade Runner”, but in terms of creativity and pioneering soul, it is about half the size.