Just last week, I was fortunate enough to watch the 4K restoration of the original Blade Runner up on the big screen. It was my first time experiencing it how it was made to be seen. My enjoyment of the film was all the better for it. Some movies are made to be seen wherever. You can watch them on TV late one night or early one morning, but there are others, such as the original Blade Runner, that deserves the biggest screen possible. Blade Runner 2049 continues that ideal. It's an immersive, enlightening cinematic experience comparable to almost nothing else. This is a film with 30 years of anticipation behind it. That's 30 years of speculating, discussing, analysing and dissecting every frame of the original in an attempt to understand it's deeper thematic meanings. Theories are aplenty.
Let's look at what I can talk about, or at least in terms of the plot. It's not much, but it's something. Replicants (very advanced artificial intelligence taking humanoid form and capable of emotion) are outlawed. They were once utilised as mechanical assistants to off world colonies, but times have changed. We live in a post-blackout world now (for context watch this short film). But the Nexus 8 model still exists. They're scarce, spread throughout the globe, but they exist, and it's up to the Blade Runners, AKA futuristic LAPD cops, to take them out. Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) runs the joint. K (Ryan Gosling) follows her guidance and regulations. He's a Blade Runner. An opening case sparks a new investigation, and this investigation sparks another, and eventually it all leads him to the mysteriously vanished Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who is somewhere doing something for some reason. Cue the Blade Runner theme song.
You don't have to look far to find a story that deals with what it means to be human. Just recently, Westworld damn near perfected it on the small screen. Blade Runner 2049 presents something different and original, and it does so through a provocative screenplay that's as perfect a sequel that Blade Runner could get. They literally couldn't have done a more perfect job with the narrative. It's not without its flaws, which I will delve into shortly, but this is one I no doubt will be coming back to time and time again, even if it's merely to gaze upon its incomparable beauty. Roger Deakins has been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards, yet he's come home empty handed every single time. Thirteen! That's thirteen more than I'm ever going to get. If Blade Runner 2049's cinematography goes unrewarded, I'll finally side with those against the Academy's ways.
A few minor quibbles do need to be brought to light, and it mostly relates to a couple of the supporting characters. Jared Leto's Niander Wallace, as well as his accomplice Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), is after something very important. You get a sense of why they're after it, especially when a decent amount of thought is put into it post-movie, but their overall motives lack necessary clarification. The story isn't about them so this can be forgiven, and I'm sure as I go back and re-visit it I'll uncover more layers, but as of now, they seemed to be making a whole lot of fuss for very little justification. Then that brings me to Mackenzie Davis' Mariette. Again, her performance is brilliant. It's merely the character that's questionable. Deep into the plot, she takes a leap into something further, something I'm obviously not going to discuss here, and she asks a single favour off of one character. This favour puzzled me. It could be another thing I'll come to understand upon further analysis, but it demands to be said.
I've barely touched the surface of Blade Runner 2049. Heck, I haven't even discussed Harrison Ford's role in this film yet (it's juicy as hell, completely unpredictable, subversive of traits and I loved it), but I think I need to stop. A lot of this should be experienced, not read about. It's what Denis Villeneuve wanted and it's what I want too. You can't experience this film any other way. I'm fearful this film may underperform at the box office. If we ever want studio movies to be big, bold and ambitious again, go out of your way to see Blade Runner 2049. Even make it a double feature with mother! We need more daring mainstream projects like these. Go show the studios they work.
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