Blade Runner 2049
Photo: Little White Lies
See this movie.
But first: Did you see the original Blade Runner? You should see it. It has all the elements – an intriguing story, riveting characters, powerful visuals, a haunting soundtrack – that keep a movie alive for generations.
No worries though. You don’t have to have seen Blade Runner to ‘get’ BR 2049. Villenueve gives you a quick bit of context in text at the opening of the movie, kind of like Star Wars’ scrolling narrative, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” but a lot gloomier ,and ‘way more ominous.
From that moment forward, we are drawn into a time and place not so distant from here and now, and every bit as real and engrossing. We have a sense of being seated behind the eyes of Agent K (Ryan Gosling) and soon we experience his dark world and his darker mission as a Blade Runner: “Retiring” Replicants, those almost-but-not-quite-human beings that do the bidding of whichever cynical, black-hearted megalomaniac maintains control.
We are pulling for Agent K, not only because he works for Lt. Joshi, (Robin Wright), perhaps the more palatable – albeit still distasteful – of two evils, but also because he starts to learn things about a miracle he’s never seen. And, maybe, that miracle speaks to a thought he’s carried a long time about his own place in this grimy sphere.
To get to the truth of who he is, Agent K must find and confront Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) a Blade Runner from simpler times, when agents retired only Replicants that outlived their programming, or went rogue. If there’s a sag in the dialogue, it’s here when these two come across as stilted and a bit predictable, but it takes only a minute or three of screen time before the awkward, obligatory, pugilistic formalities – with a backdrop of Elvis in hologram, no less – are dropped and the story line picks up again.
A couple of good subplots and satisfying revelations lead us to a nice twist, a real surprise for viewers and our two blade runners. They don’t see it coming and we don’t either! And that revelation is part of what keeps this movie EXPERIENCE with us after we leave the theatre.
The soundtrack? Awesome! That scraping, soaring, swing from discord to chord reverberates within us. It evokes fear and hope, just like K. It lifts us and drags us toward what we dread and what we must know.
Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Deckard, reflects the melancholy and second-guessing of a paradise lost. Ryan Gosling as K taps into that little voice we all hear and want to believe. Maybe we are special.
Ana de Armas is captivating as Joi, Agent K’s simulated companion and alter ego. Jared Leto plays Niander Wallace, the demented scientist with a perverse vision for the future of earth and humankind. He’s creepy for sure, but not nearly so unnerving as Luv, played Sylvia Hoeks, his unbending and dreadful minion.
The yearning to know who we really are – and what life, life! is all about – work at a universal gut level. As do themes of God and creation, power and corruption, the very nature of love. Choose one and ponder it when you see Blade Runner 2049 again, and again.
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