Blade Runner 2049 - When I was a film major years ago, I took a cinema theory class where we watched the first Blade Runner. Most of the discussion period was consumed with the professor trying to convince me and others that the film was about feminism with Rachael trying to live as a woman in a man’s world. I still hold that film was about what it means to be human and believe this film only further extends that metaphor.
In the beginning of the film, it is obvious that K and Joi are not what is considered human in this world. As it progresses, those layers of prejudice and anonymity are stripped away to show just how special, unique and human they both are. It should have been obvious early when Deckard and Wallace pay almost no attention to him but K finding out that he is not the chosen one is a hammer blow that at first seems like misdirection. Then, the bridge scene hammers home just how un-unique he and his Joi really are. That’s the point when K makes the decision that seems most human, defies what all parties have told him to do and does what he thinks is best.
If you start pulling on the strings of the plot of this film, it unravels pretty quickly. How can Replicants that can reproduce help Wallace build them faster when he can grow one into an adult in much less time that it would take for one to mature at a natural rate? How did Deckard’s daughter get the irradiated horse with her birthday carved on the bottom? There are plenty other questions that people will theorized for years but I really think are just gaps in the plot that were traded for other means.
To that end, the plot elements of this film could have been handled in about half the run time. However, the real joy of this film was how visually and aurally stunning it was. That each shot lingered just a bit longer than you would expect or that each sound seemed to only deepen this world was so amazing along with how those things intertwined. So even I, the eternal champion of the 90 minute film, think the extended length and sheer indulgence of the cinematographer was a feature and not a bug.
As such, this was definitely not a wall to wall non-stop action film but it did have some great action set pieces. The fight between K and Sapper was pretty great. I also thought K vs. Deckard amidst the wreckage of a casino show room was pretty great. My favorite bit of action was probably Deckard running through the doorway and shutting and locking the door behind him only to have K bust through the wall beside him.
This film definitely played to the strengths of its cast. Ryan Gosling isn’t a particularly charismatic actor. So his stoic nature plays perfect to K’s Replicant emotions. Jared Leto works perfectly as the slightly unhinged megalomaniac Wallace. Harrison Ford as Harrison Ford playing Deckard has the perfect swagger and disregard for others. Dave Batista, Robin Wright and Carla Juri were pretty great too. The stand out was probably Ana de Armas as Joi. She’s really the anchor that Gosling’s K is tethered to.
This was a really stunning film that I’m glad I took the time to see. I think its substance is much more in its visual language and music than plot though and I’m OK with that.