Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins
WRITERS: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
MUSIC: Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch
Something miraculous has happened 35 years after the release of Ridley Scott’s amazing “Blade Runner”. Warner Bros. has managed to release a sequel that not only stands up to the original, but it also continues to explore the themes set forth in the original film while standing on its own feet. It provides some answers to questions posed by the original film, but it also thankfully keeps the integrity of the first film intact.
In the new movie, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a new type of replicant that has been made to strictly obey orders. His job is to hunt down older versions of his own kind. Older replicants are still not allowed on Earth due to their older programming that makes humanity think that they are unpredictable.
Despite K’s profession, he is looked upon as an outsider by those who know that he is a “skin job” or a “skinner”. On his latest case, he encounters Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), an old replicant that ends up setting Officer K on a quest that will eventually lead him to a discovery that could change the world. It also puts him on a path to find Rick Deckard, the man who was also a Blade Runner and the main protagonist of the first film.
The thing that I love about this film the most is that it focuses primarily on K and we get to see the world from the perspective of a replicant. We see how unkind humanity can be towards him and even his superior Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) doesn’t treat him with quite the respect that he deserves. The movie explores the primary theme from the original film and whether or not replicants are truly alive or just mere creations.
K’s only real companion is an advanced computer program that can project a human form named Joi (Ana de Armas). She is a fabrication made to be affectionate towards K and do what she can to serve him. While we know this, K and Joi’s love story is genuine and you realize that you care for two characters that are creations of mankind. It is a unique look at the relationship between humanity and technology and it doesn’t even feature a human at all.
The movie thankfully leaves some questions from the original film unanswered. For example, there is a scene in this movie that alludes to whether or not Deckard himself is real or a human. The scene explores this possibility but still doesn’t give a proper answer, thus respecting the original film’s continuity.
The cast is fantastic all around, but a special shoutout goes to Gosling. He has to play K with a certain sense of being disconnected from everyone else. K has to be impersonal at the beginning yet we still have to care for him. Gosling plays that fine line perfectly as he takes K on a journey of self-discovery.
Ford is not featured in the film nearly as much as the trailers have made it out to be, but his role is just as important as a supporting character to K. We also get to find out what happened to him and Rachael after they ran away at the end of the original film. Those answers are not only satisfactory, they are essential in propelling the story of this film forward.
Anyone who has seen “Blade Runner” also knows just how beautiful that movie is. The visual effects have stood the test of time and given us an overly populated dystopian. “Blade Runner 2049” gives us more of this dystopian, except on a bigger scale than the original film due to having more resources and better technology. Take it from me, it has to be seen and it is a beautifully dreadful looking film.
“Blade Runner 2049” is an intelligent discussion about what it is to be human or to have a soul. Like the original film, I feel that if you watch this film 20 times, you’ll get 20 different takes on the film. Even as I write this review, I keep thinking about the things that I’ve just seen and thinking about the movie’s themes. As a massive fan of the original film, I can say without a doubt in my mind that this is a sequel with a story worth telling.