Sunday, October 8, 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

This film may be one of the longest I see this year at nearly two and a half hours. Films by Denis Villeneuve move at a slow steady pace with long shots. This sequel to the 80s cult classic is gorgeous and mesmerizing as it moves around various parts of this futuristic west from trash heaps in San Diego to the red desert of an abandoned Las Vegas. Los Angeles is constantly stormy or snowing as the detection takes place in drab buildings or on dark city streets. The film begins with text informing the viewer that in the thirty years since the original film the Tyrell corporation has become bankrupt and the Wallace corporation has taken over. Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a new version of the blade runner but also a newer model replicant. He arrives at the house of Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), a maggot farmer. He confronts him about his identity and the two fight until K finally kills Sapper with a pistol blast to the head. Before he leaves the site, his drone notices a strange box buried beneath a tree.

K must go through tests to keep him at a baseline as they monitor the replicants more closely. Madam Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) is K's superior officer. Other people know K is a "skinjob" and yell slurs at him or write them on his apartment door. He has a virtual woman for company, Joi (Ana de Armas). He brings home a new update that allows her to travel around but he's called back to the office before he gets to use it. The box beneath ground contained bones of a recently pregnant woman but K zooms in to find a serial number etched mysteriously on the bones. Lieutenant Joshi is disturbed by the revelation that replicants can reproduce and orders K to destroy the evidence. Tracking the serial number brings K to the Wallace corporation where he is met by the replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks). She identifies the number as belonging to Rachel and plays the recorder from the first film when Deckard  (Harrison Ford) tested her. 

Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) knows that replicants can reproduce but not how. He wants to obtain the technology for himself so he orders Luv to track K who goes to interview Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to learn Deckard went missing. K returns to Sapper's farm and finds a date carved on the tree that triggers a memory, one he believes to be artificial. Luv retrieves the bones from the LAPD headquarters killing a medical examiner in the process. Joshi demands results of K and asks him to relate the memory he has of hiding a wooden horse in a furnace. He also encounters the robot prostitute Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) on the streets. Tracing the date with Joi in tow, K discovers that an anomaly genetic code was housed at an orphanage. K flies out to San Diego scrapyards and is shot down by scavengers and nearly killed but Luv drops drone bombs on his attackers. K goes to the orphanage led by Mister Cotton (Lennie James).

K believes the memory is his own and real meaning that he might be the offspring of Rachael and Deckard. Joi gives him the name Joe and convinces him that there is something special about him. He goes to find out if his memory is real by talking to Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) who confirms that it is a real memory. K returns to tell Joshi that the job is done and she tells him to run. K spends time with Joi who syncs with Mariette so that he can have a physical interaction. He then sets out to trace the wooden horse and follow the trail to an abandoned Las Vegas. Luv confronts Joshi and tracks K to Vegas. K encounters Deckard and interrogates him about the past until Luv and the Wallace henchmen attack them. Luv bring Deckard back to Wallace who tries to convince Deckard to give him the information by bringing out a clone of Rachael though it does not have the right eye color. Wallace sends Luv to take Deckard off-world so that they can torture the information out of him but K, who was injured but saved by Mariette and other rebellious replicants, shoots down the flying car. He fights Luv and drowns her. K has learned that he is not the offspring of the replicant, but Dr. Stelline is Deckard's daughter. The father and daughter reunite as K bleeds out in the snow.

While Blade Runner 2049 draws out the story quite a bit, I found the mystery and world interesting enough to engage me for the almost three hours of the film. The gorgeous visuals also help propel the film forward. The relationship between K and Joi seemed like the strangest part that could have been shortened but did deal with the need for affection by these replicants. Harrison Ford was not in the film as much as I thought though Gosling does well as the leading man. Rooting for a replicant was odd but wanting to know if he was actually born was a clever twist on the original story and a neat expansion that made the film compelling. I think this sequel did well in adding to the first film and continuing to depict an imaginative world first thought of by the creative mind of Philip K. Dick. 

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