Synopsis: A cop in a dystopian near-future encounters mystery and danger while hunting down replicants.
Blade Runner 2049 is a big movie, like…so big that it can barely be contained onscreen. The visual landscapes are IMAX level, swooping up and down over orange deserts and through cities pockmarked with dense colors and glowing light.
The film’s forerunner, Blade Runner (natch!), sustained a film noir mood in a dangerous and dirty place where technology and biotech marched forward without ethical concerns.
Blade Runner 2049 picks up thirty years later, the Earth’s ecology seemingly on its last legs. And there is a new blade runner in our focus. So long, Harrison Ford. Hello, Ryan Gosling.
Gosling plays K, a replicant cop who is assigned as a blade runner. K always looks vaguely pained like he has a slipped disc in his replicant back. Or maybe living in LA (worse than ever) is bringing him down. Or maybe he is embarrassed that his girlfriend is a hologram. Harrison Ford, as yesteryear’s blade runner Deckard, will show up later, reliably wily and taciturn. Like he is in every movie. And on every talk show couch. Well, in spite of the flying cars and giant holograms, the future does look dismal, so I can’t blame the guys for looking glum.
K uncovers some potentially explosive evidence regarding replicants that his tough lady boss Lt Joshi (Robin Wright) tells him to get rid of because it could “break our world.” The secret revealed turns out to be fairly humdrum considering the population’s pressing problems of day-to-day survival.
But the eventual meeting between Gosling’s K and Ford’s Deckard is pretty exciting. You can bet they will initially pummel each other before reaching a bro détente. And along
the way there is comic relief from Jared Leto, playing Niander Wallace. Niander is a replicant-designing genius and sociopath extraordinaire. He swoons around his Industrial-meets-Japanese Aesthetic lair in black pyjamas , hair in a man bun, his visually impaired eyes a phosphorescent white. He makes weird pronouncements as if he has LSD-induced brain damage: How shiny her lips. How instant your connection… I can see it as clear as dreaming. He’s also a poor role model and boss to his henchwoman, the replicant, Luv.
Whenever K visits bat s&*$ crazy Jared “Niander” Leto, he launches into a completely extraneous lecture involving his pyscho philosophy about humanity. This preening creep wants to make oodles of replicants as labor for fancy off-world colonies.
Eventually K’s fact-finding mission leads him to an abandoned Las Vegas where he finds objectifying and cheesey statuary of women, objectifying and cheesey holograms of women, non-objectified and uncheesey bees. (Yes, bees: the buzzing, honey-producing ones.) Also a certain someone. You can probably guess who lives in hermetic splendor there, but I’ll give you a clue: his name rhymes with Jon Lolo.
There is much to admire in this sequel, like a marvelously brooding Gosling, whose investigation turns into a search for self. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is masterful. But there is a heavy overlay of outdated male gaze and predictability. I had questions and figured what the filmmakers would say. ( Btw, the director and writers of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 are men. The producers of the former: men. The producers of the latter: two women and fourteen men.)
QUESTIONS FOR Blade Runner 2049 FILMMAKERS
Q. Why are there such stupid, stupid giant erotic statues of women in future Vegas?
A. Because there are not enough stupid things to gawk at in present day Vegas.
Q. Why is Gosling so good in every movie he is in?
A. Canadians take well to early Disney training program for child actors.
Q. It seems that sustaining life on a dying planet Earth would preclude producing replicants who need food and water like humans. Why not just make robots/computers/machines?
A. This is more dramatic.
Q. Back to the robots vs replicants … wouldn’t it be too expensive and complex to make all of those replicants?
Q. Is Jared Leto really any different from his character?
A. Yes. The actor is neither visually impaired nor a replicant-designer.
Q. Why don’t the replicants ask themselves: Hey, why don’t I ever see or hear from any family members or friends from my past?
A. They all moved to a colonized planet where the Wi-Fi is down.
Q. Why does Luv (Jared’s Leto’s character’s henchwoman) get to stride through police headquarters, into commanding officers’ offices without interference?
A. Because the script says so.
Cut to the Chase: A great-looking, well-cast movie. Not visionary story-telling
Comedy Highlight: Jared Leto as Niander Wallace, of course!