Last weekend, I took a trip to the Fox Bay theater and saw “Blade Runner 2049”. It’s a science fiction film starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and directed by Denis Villenueve. I think it was a solid film. Considering that it was a sequel to an older movie, it kept true to the science fiction and cyberpunk themes of the last one.
A plus is that it brings in new ideas and makes a story of its own instead of sticking to the format of its predecessor. So even if you weren’t a fan of the original “Blade Runner” or are new to the science fiction genre, you might find something you will enjoy in this new film.
This film has been out since the start of October so I expect only few people to have seen it already. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. I won’t spoil too much, but I’ll try to paint you a picture of what to expect. If you already have, then just think of me as that one friend who complains in the back seat during the car ride home.
The original “Blade Runner” from the early 1980’s is credited for birthing the whole cyberpunk genre and the retro-future look most sci-fi films back then had. If you think of movies like “Alien”, or “Tron”, the original “Blade Runner” would be in the same boat. If you like those types of movies, you’ll like this new one like I did. “2049” contains a lot of things that you would see in the original, but they executed these ideas in its own unique way.
“Blade Runner”, on top of being a sci-fi film, is a noir film as well. From what I understand about most noir films, it involves a detective uncovering a mystery. The mystery usually reveals itself to be a conspiracy larger than the detective himself.
In “2049,” that detective is Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner who works for the Los Angeles Police Department. By the way, Los Angeles somehow looks worse in 2049.
K is busy retiring a rogue replicant when he finds a box of another replicant’s remains. A lab analysis of the remains afterward shows that this replicant had a child, something that is completely unusual considering that replicants are cloned human beings only meant for labor. His job is to find out where this child is and eventually retire them.
When K is out on the job, he’s not getting into choreographed fight scenes or gun battles left and right. Like a normal dystopian future cop, he travels to different parts of techno-Los Angeles to gather pieces of the puzzle.
This brings up two things I like about the “2049”. The first is that the story appears to be about K just trying to find out what’s going on. He’s not Neo from “The Matrix”, or that girl from “Divergent”, or anything that turns out to be really special. He’s more like a pawn being pushed between the police department and the omnipresent Wallace Corporation.
One fight he does get into, he nearly loses his life to the antagonist, but inevitably comes out on top. This is literally my own standard and I don’t expect people to try and hold up to it or care, but if the protagonist is going to fight someone, it should be a life or death situation for that character. But the real reason I like this is that this means the story was paced and built up to get to this point.
So that’s one place where “2049” gets a point from me. It’s a noir film, so it takes its time before getting to the good part. Another reason I like the pacing is because it yields so much to the visuals.
So like I said before, “Blade Runner 2049” is about Ryan Gosling running around in dystopian Los Angeles looking cool in a fur-collared trench coat. He passes through rainy streets with lifelike advertisements, temple-like corporate offices and sandy city outskirts.
“2049” has a gritty depiction of life in this semi-dystopian future. K going to his own apartment looks like a trip through today’s Russian slums. It’s dirty, people are squatting everywhere and there’s graffiti on the walls. He steps into his apartment and it’s instantly a warm, cozy home as opposed to the rainy, filthy city outside. The aesthetic alone is really pleasing to the eyes.
The film is very long and very slow paced. Again, only a few times does the film really dip into action. But they fill those spaces in between with cool visuals. The giant holograms, weird architecture and sandy deserts are sights we get to enjoy while K is lead through them by the story.
My complaint is that “2049” uses some clichés you would see from other modern science fiction films. One part was the ending. It seemed to leave on a cliffhanger note instead of completely wrapping the story up. This could just be the movie making me want to see what happens next, but it already took over two hours to show the story to me. But I think the film could have used more closure.
Another part is where K gets wounded and ends up in the sewers with some replicants. These replicants reveal that they’re organizing their own underground resistance group. Granted that cyberpunk involves class issues and starting underground armies in the sewers is a normal thing for that genre, I think it was still unneeded to the plot. It just looks thrown in there because Hollywood writers knew people would like it.
These things don’t spoil the film, it takes me out of the immersion a little. I mean how many other modern science fiction films involve uprisings? Half of the “Star Wars” films have that. On the upside, these extra bits could be hints for an exciting sequel.
I’ve already talked more than I needed to here, and I haven’t even covered half of the movie. It’s really that long. If you want to know more, you should visit the nearest theater before it’s too late. I give this movie an eight out of ten. It’s worth the watch.
Photo Credit: IMDB