Sequels are always a challenge but more so with a beloved movie. I’m giving Blade Runner 2049 a B.
Working for the LAPD, K (played by Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner, a replicant whose job it is to find and eliminate the replicants who have gone rogue including former models who set out to take on the people who made them. During the recovery/disposal of an older version, K finds a secret which could change the world…and now must set out to not only discover if the secret is real, but to eliminate it. To do so, he seeks out former Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) and faces his own mortality in the bargain.
Set thirty years in the future, the Blade Runner sequel is a long movie, almost three hours. The time is filled with vivid images of a dark, gray world filled with metal buildings, snow and rain. Japanese language and video images dance through the landscape (reminding me of Ghost in the Shield). Sunshine, plants and animals are missing and clearly leave a void. Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto) has taken over Tyrell’s creations, them quicker allowing for him to take over more and more of the outer planets.
But K is more human than others thought as he lives this secret life with a video droid/companion who knows his deep dark secrets. It is her who he loves and poses a question about ‘what is alive?’ Their relationship is much like a marriage with silly banter, inane discussion about their days and sexual longing. Speaking of sex, Blade Runner has a lot of nudity. While I felt it was gratuitous, it does appeal to the male audience.
Sequels are naturally difficult. More so when they are a popular one. Blade Runner 2049 has enough nostalgia to connect to the original while deepening the storyline, sending it into a new direction. With Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos and Sean Young, the sequel brings the characters back as if we just left them for a bit. However, the slow pace during K’s search feels as if it drags on. The last half hour of the movie is the finest as we finally get to see the truth cross K’s face. Certainly whether you are a fan or not of the original, this Blade Runner sequel will have you talking after the movie is over about it.
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