The Bock’s Office: ‘Blade Runner’ a cutting-edge sequel
Even when the future is now, things like attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion are still suspiciously unseen, but if you think you’re expecting too much from “Blade Runner 2049” prepare for any disappointments to be lost like tears in the rain.
In 2049, the artificial humans known as replicants have been fine-tuned from those before. The entities engineered with greater strength and endurance than typical people are now far more adherent to society.
Among these newer models is K (Ryan Gosling), an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department tasked with hunting down the older replicants and “retiring” them.
K has never questioned his nature, knowing that he is looked down on by real humans and seen as a traitor by his own kind.
Nevertheless, his world is thrown into disarray when he discovers a secret in his latest mission, the revelation of which could change everything he knows.
With “Drive,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” and plenty more, Gosling has gotten the part of the strong, silent and deadly type down to a science, appropriately so in this case as a stiff and somber cop who knows his place in the world, aware that his oldest memories are implants and his choices are limited.
It’s kind of telling that his taste in women leans hard one way — Ana de Armas gives a heart-wrenching performance as his “girlfriend,” Joi, a devoted holographic program with a mind of her own who yearns to be tangible and be touched by K.
Makes you rethink the relationship you have with Siri and Alexa, huh?
Jared Leto may be human here, but he’s certainly not on the same plane of existence as techno-corporate messiah Niander Wallace, who made his money saving a dying world and now spends his days languishing in solitude and spouting prophecies.
Luckily, he has a replicant to do his dirty work, ironically named Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), who’s totally comfortable launching a missile strike while she gets a manicure, but those nails have more work cut out for them.
Of course, we still have yet to meet the biggest name of this saga, and though he comes back late, Harrison Ford is as welcome as ever as former blade runner Rick Deckard, whose origin is still up for debate.
If you honestly believe him when he says, “I know what’s real,” you haven’t been paying attention.
Ridley Scott’s perpetually altered science fiction future noir from 1982 was undoubtedly ahead of its time, regardless how you may feel about its completeness. Let’s try not to worry about the original movie’s setting is only two years from now and that a cyber-Holocaust known as The Blackout immediately followed the events of the first film.
Still, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and a jump ahead by three decades sees the world as a whole in disarray, LA in particular a seriously overpopulated metropolis where it’s always raining — or later snowing — with flashy ads for Coke and Atari still hard to miss, though projections of massive naked ladies tend to draw the eye more.
Director Denis Villeneuve takes Scott’s visual style and runs with it, creating the same kind of urban despair that worked so well in its favor 35 years ago.
Original screenwriter Hampton Fancher returns and teams with Michael Green for the new story, which does away with some of the nuances but not the slow, deliberate pacing that will either endear you or madden you while watching.
A movie with such a polarized critical response even years later is one that you’d expect to create difficulties when it comes to a sequel, yet Villeneuve and Fancher are able to retain the best parts of Scott’s work while improving other elements. Of course, that depends on your tolerance of Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s blaring musical score.
The ethics of replicants and the other wonders and blunders of this day and age is no longer the hypothetical scenario it used to be, and scientific advancements are reflected in a 2049 society that’s largely numbed by choice. You may think it sad that a futuristic hooker (Mackenzie Davis) has to ask what’s pictured in an old photo of a tree, but she’s just a product of her environment.
“Blade Runner 2049” stands out less than its predecessor did, yet in terms of sequels, we’re not talking about a carbon copy plot like “The Force Awakens.” The story adeptly averts all your expectations without getting too far off the ground, making for a more appealing if less audacious follow-up.
Still, when can we expect those flying cars?