Blade Runner 2049(2017) Review
Cast : Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Slyvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Carla Juri, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto
Director : Denis Villeneuve
Genre : Sci-Fi
A Nostalgic Trip Back to The Future!
So you wake up one fine morning only to discover that you're not a human, you're a replicant, a bio-engineered robotic android, that's been programmed to fit in identically with the human species. Nobody suspects you because your every movement, expression, action, motive, facial tick, etc. are so lifelike and appear so natural. All this of course would not have been possible without emotions. And just how does an artificially generated being possess the gift of emotions? It's simple, you just feed him memories of someone else, and the emotions will follow. When director Ridley Scott first explored this idea in his widely polarized 1982 film Blade Runner, even the hardest of critics, who found the pacing a tad too tedious, would vouch for the futuristic world created by him. Others praised it for its central theme of examining humanity. I for one, loved the way the film showed the replicants as the ones who showed signs of compassion and concern for one another, and are juxtaposed against human characters, who seemingly lack empathy, while the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal.
While many fans of the first film argue about the ambiguous end of the first film, as to whether or not its primary character Rick Deckard was a replicant or not, the sequel takes this very same ambiguity and cleverly spins another deeply personal tale of existential crisis by planting a new protagonist(also a Blade Runner), who questions the nature of reality and his ability to accurately perceive and remember it. Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as 'K', a newer replicant model that has been created to obey, work as a Blade Runner for the LAPD by hunting down and retiring rogue older models.
Ryan Gosling has wonderfully matured as an actor. While just his quiet presence and stony gaze is enough to carry a film on his shoulders, as demonstrated in some of his films such as The Notebook(2004), Drive(2011), The Place Beyond The Pines(2012) and La La Land(2016), with very few dialogues, Ryan uses this same formula but uses the film's slow pacing to his advantage in showing his gradual implosion, when cast in the pitiless vastness we see as the dystopian future. Harrison Ford helps provide the necessary nostalgia element that the film requires, while Robin Wright's steely presence looks like she's dropped right in from one of the House of Cards sets. Jared Leto requires all of two scenes to prove what a master he is at method acting.
Right from the first frame, the movie is a visual delight and watching it on the biggest possible screen is a must! While I have never been a fan of CGI spectacle for its own sake, the film contains some of the best CGI work I have ever seen, and the team does a brilliant job of maintaining a visceral spectacle throughout its 2 hours and 43 minute runtime, organically expanding on the universe masterfully created by Ridley Scott. Scenes such as the one when an AI female companion wants to make love to Ryan's character, and does so by inhabiting the body of a sex worker are breathtaking to look at. Sadly, the sequel inherits the same problem as the first film, and that is its turtle-paced storytelling, which makes this a very exhausting affair. It's only towards the end of the second act that things really start kicking, but until then, the movie solely relies on its hypnotic intensity.
Blade Runner 2049 is one of those rare sequels that does not derail the original. Just watch(or don't watch) Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and you'll know what I'm talking about. Make no mistake, its provides zero entertainment of the sort you'd find in a blockbuster extravaganza, although it's certainly packed as one. Like this year's Korean masterpiece Okja, this one will certainly get you questioning the idea of humans flirting with nature in the form of conglomerates selling enhanced products. It's scale awed me but frankly, its pacing made me thoroughly exhausted.
A little humor and a little pruning wouldn't have hurt.
I'm going with 3/5.
*Ryan Gosling as a replicant who is very much aware of what he is was a very nice touch. I'm glad the makers didn't adopt a Westworld like approach.
*Perhaps one of the most complex films since Inception. Inserting dreams, and now inserting memories.