Denis Villeneuve is back with his sequel to Ridley Scott’s cult classic Blade Runner. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford returning to his role of Rick Deckard.
Coming into this film I was extremely apprehensive. I was not a fan of the original Blade Runner, but tried to come in with an open mind. I am so glad I did as this film demonstrates fantastic character development, the correct use of CGI and logical character arcs.
The film begins in 2049 where bioengineered humans known as replicants have finally been integrated into Society following the previous Blade Runner film. The new replicants obey orders and are slave labour that allow humans to survive. K played by Ryan Gosling is one of those replicants who has taken the role of a Blade Runner, hunting down and “retiring” older models.
He finds an old rogue replicant played by Dave Bautista who before being retired states that he has seen a miracle. Whilst investigating the property K finds a buried box with human remains inside. When analysed they are revealed to be of a female replicant who died during an emergency C-section. K and his boss find this deeply disturbing as it is believed impossible for replicants to become pregnant. Seeing the potential for war and anarchy his boss orders K to find the child and destroy all evidence of the child.
K visits the Niander Wallace headquarters who has bought the Tyrell corporation and confirms that it is the remains of Rachael who had romantic relationship with Rick Deckard in the original Blade Runner over thirty years ago.
Wallace is desperate to give a replicant the ability to reproduce but does not have the knowledge so sends a replicant enforcer to steal the remains of Rachael and also find the child so he can expand his operation.
K returns to the farm where he discovered Rachael’s remains and notices an engraving on a tree that matches the engraving on a wooden horse from his memories making him believe they were real and not implants. Whilst investigating the records he discovers twins were born and were identical barring the sex chromosome. He hunts down Dr Ana Stelline who is the memory designer who informs him that it is illegal to program real memories into a replicant making him believe he is Rachael’s son. Back at base he fails a baseline test leading his boss to warn him that he has 24 hours to get back in line.
K travels to Las Vegas, now a desolate radioactive wasteland and finds Deckard. Deckard admits to scrambling the birth records to protect Rachael and his child which meant that he had to leave them to ultimately keep them safe.
Luv (Wallace’s replicant) tracks K and Deckard and leaves K near death and kidnaps Deckard. K is saved by the replicant freedom movement and is told the Rachael’s child is a girl. K realises that Dr Stelline is the daughter and implanted her memories in him. The replicants urge K to stop Wallace and to kills Deckard to keep this secret hidden.
Deckard is brought to Wallace who offers him a replicant who is identical to Rachael so that he gives him information about his child. When Deckard refuses Luv is ordered to take him and torture the information out of him. Before reaching the facility K shoots down the ship with Luv and Deckard in. He manages to kill in the ensuing fight and saves Deckard. The film ends with Deckard meeting his daughter and K severely wounded lies down on the stairs staring into the sky and snow.
This film surpassed all my preconceptions going to the cinema. The character arc of K is portrayed fantastically by Ryan Gosling. You can see his character grow and how the realisation that he could be Rachael’s child shakes his beliefs to its core. One of my great fears with Sci-fi films is its reliance on CGI to cover the flaws in the plot and acting in the film. However, this film finds a fantastic balance. It reminds me of the classic sci-fi films where the focus was the characters and their journey rather than the special effects.
Despite my personal views on Alien Covenant I understand the frustration and disappointment of the fans. What Blade Runner 2049 shows is that it is time for Ridley Scott to focus on producing and let newer established directors the opportunity to show their talents. This film also did not come across as a self-indulgent experiment as with some of Ridley Scott’s recent films and actually has a story tell.
Harrison Ford although not used in the film that much is used in a way that actually enhances the story. Rather than re-telling the original story (like in the Force Awakens) this is a genuine new chapter to the previous film.
K’s relationship with his holographic girlfriend (Joi) played by the fantastic Ana de Armas is a real highlight in the film and raises important philosophical questions regarding the future of relationships based on the way technology is progressing. Rather than Joi just been a typical AI character developed just to please K, her character is allowed to develop and show real emotions from hiring a prostitute to sleep with K to give a real sexual experience to proclaiming her love for him before she is destroyed. What is truly telling about their relationship is when K encounters another hologram who shows that despite his love and her Joi’s apparent love for him it is in fact not real and could not fulfil his emotional needs.
Blade Runner 2049 is a fantastic visionary film that might not excel at the box office but unlike the current crop of Marvel films and numerous other blockbusters will still be relevant and utterly enjoyable decades later. Overall I would rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars. Despite the films quality it’s running length is the real problem with it’s emotional and philosophical questions it is difficult to stay engaged throughout the whole film.