Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green
based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
directed by Denis Villeneuve
Rating: 2.5 / 4
It took 35 years, but finally someone decided to make a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982’s seminal Blade Runner. I was initially wary of the idea, since for me the original film didn’t warrant a follow-up (and for the record, I believe the theatrical cut, with its graphic violence, neo-noirish narration, and “happy” ending is vastly superior to all the tinkered-with special versions that followed). Then I heard that Denis Villeneuve was directing, and I felt cautiously optimistic. Maybe, just maybe, he could pull this thing off?
Three decades after the events of Blade Runner, K, a police enforcer played by Ryan Gosling, discovers that Nexus-7 model Rachael (Sean Young) had a child, presumably with the long-missing Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). This of course means that replicants can somehow reproduce, a revelation that could potentially start a war between humans and androids. Further complicating matters is the fact that K is a replicant himself… who may actually be Rick and Rachael’s son. So far, so good. But after a meandering 2 hours and 43 minutes, I kind of ended up at “So what?”
Not that it’s not worthwhile. Blade Runner 2049 is still rightfully concerned with those themes of accelerating technology and our relationship with it. But while Villeneuve is able to reproduce the original’s visual palette and wondrous special effects, he’s less successful when it comes to tone; Blade Runner was in no ways perfect, but it made us question – sometimes uncomfortably – what our future with man-made machines would be like. Even more interestingly, it ended with rogue replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) saving his would-be assassin Deckard, indeed demonstrating the type of compassion humanity had long since forgotten. Blade Runner 2049 may touch on these subjects, but it all feels rather superficial, never going into the deep, murkier waters of its predecessor. Similarly to Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the end result feels more like an approximation of what worked before rather than a piece that stands on its own merits.
But hey, that’s just me. Head on over to Cinesthesia for my friend Rubén Rosario’s more enthusiastic review.
Carlos I. Cuevas