Film Reviews

BLADE RUNNER 2049

By • Oct 9th, 2017 •

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“BR 2049 is breathtaking, smart and sophisticated. All the questions are answered and, in certain visual points, pays homage to BLADE RUNNER.”


Impressive and dazzling and takes nothing away from the iconic original.

Due to the horrific event in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, Warner Bros. canceled the press screening for BR 2049 on Monday. For the re-scheduled press screening on Tuesday, the representative read a letter from director Denis Villeneuve. He urged the critics not to ruin the movie for others by giving away the storyline. After the movie, we heard another letter from Villeneuve enumerating all the spoilers he asked us not to reveal. Some critics spoke out about making it impossible to write a review of BR 2049.

I said I would critique the clothes.

BR 2049 is very different from the original yet still dark and menacing. BR 2049 is compelling. It is science fiction for a sophisticated audience. It is long and considering the amount of creativity on the screen, worth the ticket price. I will see BR 2049 again on opening weekend paying to see it in Dolby-Atmos.

BR2049 is not a money-grab playing on your nostalgia for the original. It is a fully realized continuation of the world of replicants. You are brought into the future where the concept of “slaves” has been re-dressed. Where would our various societies be without slaves?  Slaves built the monuments. Tyrell gave slaves a more acceptable branding: Human-like but not human. Doing the dirty work humans won’t do.

The Tyrell Corporation went bankrupt and a genius billionaire scientist, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), brought the company.

Is Wallace the villain of BR 2049?

If Wallace is the “bad guy” then why did he single-handedly prevent the 2025 Global Crisis by sharing his patents for genetically modified food for free? After feeding the world, Wallace spent the next decade improving the replicant model. He called the new line of replicants Nexus 9. Using the same techniques Tyrell pioneered, he claims the Nexus 9 is obedient and easily controlled. No more going off the reservation looking for more life. No more rogue replicants showing off.

Unfortunately for Wallace, he has a gripe with leaving life to nature. He is blind and cannot do anything about it. He has artificial eyes and some device wired into his neck. He may have delayed the world going “to Hell in a handbasket” but California in 2049 – like most of the world – is a congested, smug heavy city. As creator, Wallace has given California a brilliant new class of beings, the Nexus 9 replicants. Humans have proved to be a disappointment and it is time for the species to bid adieu.

Wallace knows he cannot create a sustainable population of replicants. Replicants need to reproduce themselves, then humanity can be dispensed with. Humans have blown their chance. It’s time to step aside.

How could a Father God, a forgiving, kind Creator God have given Stephen Hawking a brilliant mind but then curse him with a slow-acting disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), that has gradually paralyzed him over the decades? It is not surprising that Hawking has denied the existence of God. Wallace must have an equally sad story that has led him to the plan to create a world of replicants.

LAPD Officer “K” (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner. There are a few Nexus 8s out there hiding among the people. K’s boss, police lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), gives “K” the leads to eliminate the 8s. But on “K’s” latest hunt, he starts to uncover bits of information about a “miracle.” Joshi insists on the destruction of anything to do with a “miracle.”

“K’ has an animation girlfriend. Every man’s dream has been filled by Wallace. Joi (Ana de Armas) is the perfect woman: supportive, sexy, young, and understanding. She even offers “K” a threesome.

Wallace also has a devoted protege, a Nexus 9 replicant, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), who seems to be tailing “K”. There is one person who “K” needs to find – former detective Rick Dekkard (Harrison Ford).

BR 2049 is breathtaking, smart and sophisticated. All the questions are answered and, in certain visual points, pays homage to BLADE RUNNER.

The next evening after seeing BLADE RUNNER 2049, I went to an AMC theater for one showing only of BLADE RUNNER. I had forgotten how thrilling and complex it was. Harrison Ford had a good reason for hating BLADE RUNNER – he gets horribly beaten several times and with his mouth constantly open and his tongue resting on his bottom teeth, seems to have a speech impediment. Most of the time, he has a stupid look on his face of utter confusion.

It was replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) who had the audience’s sympathy and steals the movie from Ford. Roy’s scene with Tyrell is a classic and his “Tears in the Rain” monologue made him the most emotionally drawn villain in films.

As BLADE RUNNER became recognized as an important, groundbreaking film, Ford has been forced – kicking and screaming – to come around and acknowledge the film. With a nice paycheck for BR 2049, he is even doing publicity with Gosling.

Where is the villain in BR 2049? It cannot be Wallace since he is isolated, blind, and is only seen in a chair. Wallace is an undeveloped character. Wallace should be more of a zealot designing a new world and planning to take the name, God.

While Harrison Ford had his career’s best, sexy love scene with Sean Young (as replicant Rachel), the writers of BR 2049 do not give Gosling such a galvanizing scene.When Dekkard stops Rachel from leaving his apartment and throws her across the room and against the wall – I realized how in today’s sensitive culture the scene might not have been filmed that way. In today’s PC climate, Dekkard would have cried and begged Rachel to stay and comfort him.

BR 2049 was written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green,  a story by Hampton Fancher, based on characters from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.Why didn’t the screenwriters give “K” a more complex, fatalistic personality?

Was Harrison Ford difficult during the filming of the original? Ridley Scott filmed Hauer in such a way that you knew the character (or the actor), was his favorite. Scott knew what he was doing with Hauer and so did Ford.

I liked BR 2049 much better before seeing the original again. Watching movies at home – no matter how big the screen or how powerful the sound system – does not compare to watching it in a theater. As many times as I have watched my various DVD and Blu-ray editions of BLADE RUNNER (the theatrical version, Director’s cut, the one with a voice-over, the one with the happy ending), it still holds up beautifully.

The writers and executives should not have brought back Harrison Ford. He created an iconic character and to return so many years later only reminds us that gods and goddesses never grow old, but movie stars do.

About the BR 2049 clothes: I can only say that the clothes were terrible compared to the original outfits of BLADE  RUNNER’S Rachel.

For a complete list of Victoria Alexander’s movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-3571/
Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.
Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and answers every email at: victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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