By Brad Dress
For a sequel to meet the expectations and achievements of a cinematic classic as well as a literary masterpiece is unheard of, especially in the modernistic era of Hollywood. Not only does “Blade Runner 2049” accomplish this, but it also builds more elements into the universe and continues the epic story of the original movie and book.
With a nearly three-hour installment, this dark sci-fi has taken its place among other greats in the genre such as “Star Wars” and “Alien.” Blade Runner brings its story to whole new heights: while it uses the depraved society and detached tone of the original, it molds its own story out of that vision. We see strong and central characters, more themes than the original and an investigative plot that keeps us on our toes. The movie has a beautifully artistic vision with the world it portrays, most notably with the massive, towering buildings, but even with nature itself; rain falls like heavenly tears, snow drifts by in wintery puffs, monumental architects plunge into golden sand dunes.
Part of the movie’s charm is the way it works off the original movie and doesn’t stray far from its master. This is evident as soon as the movie starts: a black screen, followed by the formation of red letters into paragraphs and some creepy music chilling the audience’s bones as a summary follows. We learn that in the far future, androids or identical robotic humans, also known as Replicants, once rebelled against humankind. Years later, however, the company that created them is resurrected by a rich, up-to-no-good businessman with the name of Wallace, who soon buys it to “perfect” the craft of creating Replicants.
Enter the Blade Runners—and specifically one we will call “K” (Ryan Gosling) to save ourselves some breath. K is a replicant himself, a blade runner who “retires” old androids, or essentially a robot who kills other robots.
As soon as the movie starts, we can see the same detached, realism tone we saw applied in the original movie. Side camera shots, odd angles and close-ups portray a movie hell-bent on a visage of gritty realism and horrifying beauty. The movie starts with K clobbering a replicant to death. Before the Replicant dies, he asks K, “Do you not care about killing your own kind?”
K works for the Los Angeles Police Department retiring Replicants, but his home life is in shambles. We see his lonely, nearly emotionless, life he seems to hate. His only companion is a holographic woman named Joi. These digital women can easily be bought and are used to satisfy whatever hole has not been filled by a real one. Joi is a strong driving force in the movie and someone K desperately tries to hold onto.
K feeds off the notion that he is “special” and different from other replicants, which is subsequently reinforced by Joi. When he receives a case about a dead replicant whose numbers represent the same ones he saw in an odd dream, he digs into the case with gusto.
K eventually goes to Wallace (remember that evil guy we talked about earlier?) to learn more information from him about his case. We eventually find out K and Luv, a Replicant who serves Wallace, want to know who The Child is. The Child is a hybrid born from a human and a Replicant, which has never happened before. A revolution could be in the making, or the swift death of The Child, depending on who gets their hands on them.
The supporting characters are strong, but the villains lack any serious interest. Wallace (Jared Leto) is an interesting antagonist, but his scenes are few and his tasks are delegated to his hitwoman goon Luv, a villain who lacks any of Wallace’s flair. Besides being dull, she is redundant, over-the-top, and too cold for her own purposes. The enemies’ masterplan isn’t revealed until the end, so we are forced to watch the bad guys run around like baboons and stir up trouble without a real reason why.
However, the brutality of this movie is evident: K does not hesitate to ruthlessly kill those who oppose him and Luv hunts down those with any information on the case and butchers them like pigs. The action scenes are sparse in this movie, but they are cold and dark
The case eventually takes K to Officer Deckard (Harrison Ford). Deckard is isolated and aging, but when K finds him, he does not hesitate with an attempt to pop a few caps in him, a fight that leads us to an interactive combat scene in a small concert hall with dancing, singing holograms.
Deckard is the father of The Child, and could perhaps shine a larger light on who The Child is: could it be K? Or is The Child someone else? And what of The Child, anyways? Will The Child be a messiah, a figurehead for a revolution, or will Luv catch The Child for Wallace’s sinister purposes?
The reveal is very rewarding at the end, so stick with it. This three-hour movie may take up half your night, but it is well worth your time. Clear your schedule, grab your popcorn, smuggle in a few drinks and plop into the movie theatre this weekend—Blade Runner will whisk you away.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of ATXTZ’s Vimeo account.
Brad Dress is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.