The original film was a slow burn, largely ignored commercially it gained a following on home video and a subsequent cinema re-release in 1992.
Some 35 years later we have a sequel directed by visionary director Denis Villeneuve, attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle.
The heavy lifting screen-time is carried by “K” (Ryan Gosling), a replicant policeman in 2049 hunting down remaining “older model” replicant’s and “retiring” them as necessary.
The old Tyrell industries is bankrupt, however world famine necessitated smarter replicant’s with open life span’s to perform off world slave work. Filling this commercial need is “Niander Wallace” (Jared Leto) as CEO of Wallace industries, another shadowy all consuming large corporation. Think Apple without the turtle necks and added murderous intent.
“K” does his Lieutenants bidding (Robin Wright), as any good replicant should, so when ordered to hunt a possible threat to the established world order, he obliges.
We do not get to see our original antihero “Rick Deckard” (Harrison Ford) until halfway through the picture but when we do, his previous reclusive existence is disrupted forever.
Arguably, this is a sequel that did not need to be. There is no question the film is well acted, Gosling is especially effective and the complex story well directed. There is style a plenty and the look and feel of the film is heavily reminiscent of the original dystopian setting. Credit to the art department, audio score and cinematographer for fully realising the world so accurately.
Of course what looked futuristic 35 years ago is more commonplace now but the film has stayed true to the original, including companies that no longer exist (“Atari” a famous example)
This is a long film which failed to make a big splash at the Box Office, presumably a result the studio did not expect. There is a lot to contemplate and no doubt thesis have or will be written as to deeper meanings but we will keep it simple here.
This is a good film, if you liked the original you will find this interesting and thought provoking. If you have not seen the original film, you may struggle to know what is going on and why.
In an cinematic age where good and evil are clearly delineated by superheros, moral ambivalence and infinite shades of grey are largely lost on a multiplex audience.
Despite the trailer this is no shoot em’ up, there is complexity, nuance, characterization and “people” doing things not necessarily in their self interest, arguably a very human trait. The film feels real, could the world really look and feel like this in 2049, is this a documentary, have we just not caught up yet?
The soulless disconnect with others and reliance on virtual partners/friends is not only prescient but arguably in many ways already here. Whether we need humankind’s imminent future so beautifully illustrated, is debatable
Multi screen cinemas also undoubtedly disliked the running time restricting the number of performances allowed.
Undeniably, an excellent film which honours and expands the original film’s universe, with excellent acting, production values and a sure footed director.
But one cannot help feeling after the final credits roll, “did that make me feel good, did it enhance my life” or maybe just make me a bit more pessimist for humankind’s future?