Directed by Denis Villeneuve
October 3, 2017 (Dolby Theatre) / October 6, 2017 (United States)
A replicant named K (Ryan Gosling) uncovers a secret that threatens to destabilize society and the course of civilization. Aren’t all secrets in science fiction that big?
I have never really been on the Ryan Gosling train. He is an okay actor, but I have never been blown away by one of his performances. I also do not think he has the skills to handle any science fiction stories let alone something of deep ideas like the world of Blade Runner. To the best of my knowledge he has never touched a blockbuster film prior nor anything in the realm of science fiction and in my opinion it shows. He does okay as K, but his performance can be stiff and he came off as a little unsure. A quality actor is called for in a movie like this and there are plenty out there that can do blockbusters. Gosling is not one of them.
Dave Bautista showing up in this film got a great deal of hype and I thought it was going to be more than what we got with him as soon to be retired replicant Sapper Morton. His performance was quite good in his all too brief time on screen. The man is an excellent character actor and I was intrigued by what we got here.
But who cares about that when we have Harrison Ford returning as Deckard? The unfortunate part is we got way more of K than we got of what fans wanted to see-Deckard. Deckard is the draw. What happened to HIM AND RACHAEL after the original? What is he up to now? I know the story essentially revolves around that, but we get that information through K and not the presence of the Deckard character.
The central issue in the film for the characters is: did Deckard father a child after the first film with Rachael (Sean Young)? In a world populated by bioengineered slave labor humans that would be a game changing event. It was previously believed that this was impossible but the discovery of Rachael’s body after K’s retirement of Sapper Morton puts that all into question. The hunt is on not only for Deckard but his hybrid child.
This film also answers one of the great debates of science fiction: was Deckard a replicant? That was something that never should have been answered but that would have left this film without a plot or the big draw. In a day and age when fans want everything spoon fed to them it was a given they would answer that question.
Tyrell is gone and has been replaced by Wallace Corporation. Wallace Corporation CEO Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) is interested in discovering this secret as well as it could greatly expand interstellar colonization. Growing your own slaves rather than build them. Leto turns in his usual odd performance. He is cold and reptilian here.
The ending of this movie came off like a handoff film in reverse. In a handoff film, the older character(s) bow out with the newer character(s) stepping into the spotlight. Not so much here. By the end K is no longer a factor for future films. Was the assumption Ford could not carry the film without being reintroduced as the character? The core audience came to see the legend return!
The movie had steady pacing along with a weird quality. K spent much of the film looking for Deckard (as well as picking up information that makes him question his own existence) and when they finally meet in a devastated Las Vegas, they have an odd discussion about cheese which begins by referencing Treasure Island. If that was not weird enough, there is a fight in a showroom that gets weirder because the action is interspersed with a busted floor show program. Elvis in a science-fiction movie makes everything weird.
From my view there was a great deal of extra in this movie. The establishing shots felt too long and some of the characters felt unnecessary. What they placed in the movie looked beautiful, but they felt a strong need to show extended future shots. We have flying cars and bioengineered people. We know already. Plus being a sequel to a (then) futuristic film we know it is the future.
Ana de Armas as Joi (think Siri or Alexa but as a hologram) did little other than to illustrate that K’s life was empty and we got that exact thing during the course of his investigation. We did not need her. Robin Wright as Lt. Joshi, K’s superior, felt more like an excuse for exposition by K. The actors in total gave intense and serious performances but as I said much of it felt like “extra.”
I am not sure why you would make a sequel to a film considered a classic. And the original is a classic. It would be like making a sequel to The Sun Also Rises and calling it The Sun Also Rises…AGAIN! Blade Runner set a standard so many other films have tried to copy. You are invariably trying to achieve twice the same level of greatness and just end up failing. And this movie while good looking and well-acted, does just that. It adds nothing really to the first film and the extension of the story feels unnecessary. It removes the ambiguity of the ending of the first film which helped to make it effective and an instant classic.
Blade Runner 2049 is not a bad movie but is an unnecessary sequel. You will like it, but viewing is not necessary. Skip it!