This review will not be spoiler free. Please read at your own risk.
When it comes to philosophical sci-fi, the original Blade Runner is a staple for the genre. Blade Runner’s influence can be seen in modern sci-fi not only in the western hemisphere, but also in the eastern hemisphere as well. We can see glints of it in Ghost in the Shell and in movies such as The Matrix. Blade Runner draws the viewer into a culturally diverse and rich world that blurs the lines of reality and fantasy. The original movie had a plethora of interesting factors that could draw you in. The setting was grimy, but enticing. Deckard is an easy to love lead with his sarcastic and brutish attitude towards his job. Machines that are almost perfect replicas of human beings are strolling among the world and we’re treated to a view of what the world could be.
We all love Blade Runner for a multitude of reasons, but what made this movie in particular stand out was the question it brought up: What exactly determines whether something has a “soul” or not? If we created machines that were essentially just like us and could bleed just as we humans, could they not be “human” as well? Is being made rather than born the only thing that separates us? Blade Runner 2049 only builds more upon that premise and explores it even further.
We follow the story of Officer K, a newer version of the replicant that will obey any order unlike the older Nexus-8 models. The movie opens with Officer K hunting down an older model and killing him for his supervisor back at the LAPD base. After killing him, Officer K discovers a box buried underneath a nearby tree on the Nexus’s farm. The contents they find inside send Officer K on a hell of a wild goose chase after the famed Officer Deckard. He was a fellow Blade Runner, but there were some mysteries concerning him and K wanted answers. What was in the box was remains. Remains of an old model replicant, but this replicant had somehow given birth. Something that is simply unheard of and impossible. The lead agent at the LAPD sends Officer K after this child and orders him to destroy it.
Officer K naturally does as he is told. Throughout the movie he is chased by the Wallace corporation who want to recreate the “perfect” replicant made by the Tyrell corporation from the previous film. Meanwhile Officer K is having an emotional breakdown as he works through his own “memories” and realizes that maybe he might just be something special. The movie twists and turns through getting to Deckard and defeating Wallace’s “best” replicant at the end only to reunite the old lead with his daughter who he was never allowed to see due to them wanting to keep her as protected as possible. The movie concludes nicely. Unlike the first movie, we’re given a straight forward answer as to what our lead is. He is a replicant who was filled with the memories of the replicant who had been actually born and Officer K was used as a scapegoat for the revolution that was brimming near the end of the movie. It was an interesting enough story and it was well represented. However, once again Blade Runner 2049’s strongest asset was not the story, but its visual presentation and how much deeper it dwells into the concept of humanity.
Can replicants love? Do they have a sexuality? What about the more obvious AI machines in the Blade Runner universe? 2049 explores that with the relationship between K and his holographic wife, Joy. Can something programmed to do everything you want her to do, do something outside of that? We get a view of that when Joy syncs up with one of the other replicant prostitutes and spends a night with K through her. Joy also in the end tries to do her best to save Officer K and seems to develop a personality throughout the work that challenges the main character at times despite being programmed to do “everything” he wants to see/hear. Blade Runner 2049 looks to explore in this work the sexuality of replicants. This is more of way to show to the viewer just how “human” these machines can really be.
That is the message and questions that made the original Blade Runner stand out and this new installment only builds upon them. It lovingly constructs the question of what is human and what is machine for us and presents it with seemingly perfect direction and wonderful cinematography.
This movie is absolutely gorgeous to watch. Shots are directed carefully and beautifully. The style isn’t subtle. We’re greeted to pretentious hallways with walls that are dancing with the reflection of water. Colors blend together and create overbearing auras around the dark streets and enormous buildings that are constructed in this world. This movie is artistic and it does not hold back in that regard. Shots are well constructed and presented with a flair of dread permeates from a good number of them. This world is dark and its grimy. It’s decaying and there’s technology everywhere that intends to blur the line of reality with machinery.
This is a beautifully done movie and I couldn’t have asked for a better sequel. It was created with love and obvious care for the source material. I have watched it twice now and am hoping to add a third time to that list. What else can I say about the film? It was well done and the story was put together nicely. I cannot recommend this movie enough. My final rating is 9.99999/10.