Blade Runner 2049 sufficiently blew my mind. Script, performance, design, sound, direction, cinematography, Denis Villeneuve’s latest in a long line of fantastic films excels on every level. It’s rare that I will pay to see a movie in theaters twice. It’s even more rare that I’d pay for IMAX twice, but Blade Runner 2049 simply demands it. It’s that good.
How good? It’s better than Blade Runner AND its existence makes Blade Runner better in hindsight. No small feat. For a film to be almost punishingly imaginative while still leaving room for my imagination to flourish should be impossible. It feels effortless here.
Andy’s review says it all so nicely, so rather than step on his toes I just want to bullet-point a few fun things I noticed in the film.
THESE ARE ALL SPOILERS.
– Whether or not Deckard is a replicant still remains ambiguous, despite Ridley Scott’s insistence that 2049 would provide a definitive answer. I’m glad they didn’t do a cold, hard reveal. That would’ve been lame. Instead we are given bits and pieces of “evidence” which can be read multiple ways. My favorite occurs during the scene in Vegas where Deckard and K are running to escape capture. K, who is explicitly stated to be a replicant, uses his robo strength to burst through a wall. Deckard takes the door. Is this because Deckard is merely human? Or is it because he’s a replicant who doesn’t know? Ya know, like Rachel.
– When K and Deckard first come to blows it’s to the soothing sounds of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds,” indicative of the two men being unaware of the other’s motivation or nature. When they opt to stop fighting, it’s to the tune of “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” which literally speaks of the illogic of emotion — this notion is precisely what defines K’s journey…
– …a journey which is identical to that of Roy Batty, a fellow replicant reckoning with what might be genuine feelings. Tears in rain = joy in snow.
– Joi, K’s live-in holographic girlfriend is a product of the Wallace Corporation, whose advertisements claim that she will literally say what the user wants to hear. K seems to have forgotten this (and the viewers haven’t yet been explicitly told), but is reminded after Joi has been deleted (killed, functionally). Her last words to K were “I love you.” We must now question whether that was her living up to the claims of her brand or if she actually felt love. And if it really was just a few lines of code rather than deeply felt emotion, was K’s “need to hear’ that she loved him based in emotion of his own? Did one party actually learn to feel? Did both? Neither?
– Joi suggests to K that he change his name to Joe since, at the time, she believed him to be a naturally born replicant child . We soon find that K is not this special anomaly — an average Joe. Of course, this could be read as a ruse as well, designed by those protecting him as a way to keep him from behaving with those pesky, illogical emotions.
– Speaking of The Child, she claims to have been locked away from the world when she was eight. She also claims that while all implanted memories are based in truth, she is forbidden from using real memories (we eventually find this to be untrue). While she says this she is creating a memory of a birthday party in which the celebrant blows out seven candles. She doesn’t have any realistic basis for an eight-candled cake.
– Does she actually need to be locked away or is it another protective ruse? Either way, the immunodeficiency she suffers from makes sense within the logic of the film. Human beings obtain our immunities as the result of centuries of procreation between genetically dissimilar partners. If her parents are indeed replicants (or one human, one replicant), it stands to reason the she would not receive any immunities at all. She’s the first of her kind, completely divorced from human evolution/adaptation.
– There’s never an explanation of “the blackout.” Was it caused by something/somebody? Was it just a result of regularly retrofit band-aid technologies eventually crumbling or something more sinister?
– Speaking of sinister, it’s easy to see why Wallace’s designs have yet to truly transcend Tyrell’s: he has no vision, both literally and figuratively.
– The film doesn’t seem to have any overarching ethical message, the way we are usually conditioned to expect from this sort of thing, and it’s a huge strength. Plenty of movies can be viewed as an advocacy or admonishment of an ethical concern or methodology, and 2049 reaches further than that. There’s no “what can be done here in the real world to prevent this potential future from occurring?” Instead it asks “what is reality?”
– Next time they do the all time great move lines list, it will definitely feature Deckard’s “I don’t know, ask him.”
That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’m sure more will pop up with repeat viewings and additional discussion. Chime in with your observations/theories/thoughts in the comments!
Author: Dan Scully
Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.