Soaked in ambient droning of synths and atmospheric, rich visuals honouring those of the original Blade Runner (1982) there is no doubt that Blade Runner 2049 duplicates just enough of the original to be a worthy sequel. Officer K (Ryan Gosling) a newer, more obedient replicant model sent to hunt down the remnants of his own “dysfunctional” kind uncovers a shocking secret that could potentially crumble the subservient relationship between replicants and humans. Pulling at the fabric of his own reality he follows the trail back to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), now isolated and alone, protecting this unnerving discovery.
Accompanied by welcomed plot twists were some contemporary philosophical questions. But, I craved a heaping tablespoon of philosophical query from Blade Runner 2049 and got just a pinch. I found the film’s core philosophical themes secondary to the plot. They could have been a stronger source of plot advancement and character development.
That being said the visuals were, other than some awkward CGI – you’ll know it when you see it – enveloping and the main source of contemporary philosophical theme. The despaired, colourful future set 35 years from the original Blade Runner looks and feels like a logical advancement both cinematically and realistically. The world includes crumbling cities, nuclear rubble with world-wide food shortages, toxic sites, company dominated countries, romances with holograms and technological slavery, all mirroring some contemporary issues of our own such as the threat of the North Korean/USA nuclear war, virtual reality pornography, the shots of dopamine from followers and likes on social media, controlling conglomerates like Monsanto and Google, unsustainable farming methods and of course the exponential depletion of natural resources. The warning bells in Blade Runner 2049 resonated quite heavily with me.
Blade Runner 2049 was a suitable homage to Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir but for me it lacked originality. Don’t get me wrong they certainly didn’t botch it. The score, visuals and construction of the world were dazing. The plot and execution from the cast was decent. It just felt like the original Blade Runner with a fancy new wrapper, posing no new questions. But I am not going to fault the writer’s for this, it’s simply because humanity is locked in a devastatingly perpetual cycle of environmental and social struggle, not dissimilar to the locked cycle of Hollywood storytelling.
Blade Runner 2049 is a haunting, bleak depiction of future, technology and humanity but also a prime example of humanity’s stagnation, both cinematically, environmentally and socially.
8 Replicants out of 10 Baseline Tests