As I sat in the movie theatre at 9pm, I realised I am one of the 8 people that decided to see this movie on a Wednesday night. The ambience of the theatre felt like my living room except with a cinema sound experience, I will never forget. And here we were sitting in the back row, all to our selves.
The movie starts and the theatre is so quiet you could hear the chewing of popcorn and slurping of raspberry Fanta. The music is loud and orchestral synths fill the room, complimenting the futuristic ambience of a post-industrial Los Angeles setting. And so the story begins…
I will say now that Blade Runner isn’t your usual action sci-fi film with metallic guns shooting, random humour and degrading of women. This is also a sequel film that doesn’t necessarily require you to have watched its 1982 predecessor: Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford.
My first impression of this film was that the narrative itself was moved slowly, it wasn’t the classic sci-fi or action film that I was expecting and it questioned really abstract but heavy issues that are reciprocated throughout the films camera work and style.
We are met with Agent K (Ryan Gosling) who is hunting down Replicants (clones of humans, that are treated more like biological computer software and as slaves rather than being recognised as their own entity), in which he encounters Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) who is an older model Replicant; who managed to escape his slavery after the mysterious “Black Out” that happened 30 years ago. We are then met with Agent K finding a clue underneath the tree of Sapper Morton’s yard, and this unearthing begins to propel the story.
Agent K then gets a new mission: find where the clues lead to and destroy all evidence; due to the impending threat of an all-out war between Replicants and humans. While we follow K on his hunt to stop war breaking out, we experience the life of a Replicant throughout the movie. We feel the exile, loneliness and depressing existence that comes with being Replicant. This bleeds into the setting and cultural context of the film; almost all plants and animals are dead, crime is high, and the dystopian society is corporately ruled by service provider Wallace Industries (creator of AI Joi and all Replicants on earth).
The film in its two-hour entirety; explores K’s conscience and the consequences of his actions after finding where exactly the clues lead him. But not before raising the suspicion of Neander Wallace (Jared Leto), the creator of all Replicants who soon figures out that K has found the very piece of the puzzle he needs, and sends Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), a psychopathic and loyal to-the-bone Replicant to kill K and recover all evidence he has found.
Harrison Ford makes his debut as Rick Deckard in the second half of the film and from there the story starts to take a darker tone. One their characters meet, it is action from that point forward; and the narrative consequently also begins to move rapidly. Forcing us to question what makes us human, creating a morbid moral conflict within the characters themselves and you.
It’s a neo-noir genre of film and if you don’t know what that is, literally google it. It is a film style with dark shadows, moving light and awkward angles to give a feeling of tension, paranoia and hopelessness. All of which are feelings that are deeply embedded within the storyline of BR2049 and the characters themselves.
The cinematography in this film, however, gives opposite feelings! Its beauty is found within the seamless transfer between distant scenic shots, to up close, personal takes; thank you Roger Deakin (director of photography).
Props to Denis Villeneuve (director of ‘Sicario’ and ‘Arrival’) for doing such an amazing job with this film, when I heard he was directing this I kind of got butterflies in my stomach knowing that 2049 was in very capable, delicate hands. His direction with this film was spot on in capturing the dystopian and desperate society of blade runner. All I can say is he did a brilliant job picking up the pieces from the original Blade Runner and weaving the same motifs of humanity within the film.
Also, Hans Zimmer who created the score for this film, did an incredible job to create a musical score that was so cumbersome that it was frustrating. The orchestral synths really push the audience to the edge. The music was one of the very first things that I noticed about the film. It amplifies the kind of paranoia and unsettling feeling that is embedded within Blade Runner 2049.
Should you watch it?
The film itself is an acquired taste as the genre and the style is not for everyone. It is also two-hours long with the storyline itself starting off slow. However, if you are one to try new experiences then definitely give this movie a chance! If you fully immerse yourself in the film while watching you will find that once you leave that movie theatre, you are questioning the very fabric that makes us human. Which is always fun!