RogerBW's Blog

Blade Runner 2049 23 May 2023

2017 SF, dir. Denis Villeneuve, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford; IMDb / allmovie. Turns out slaves may think they're people.

This production felt to me like the collision of two ideas: a thoroughgoing remake of the original film, only with modern bankable actors, and a sequel to that film fed by thirty years of obsession over its tiniest details; but in the end it doesn't handle either terribly well.

On the one hand, we have not-Deckard ("K"), a blade runner whose job is to hunt down replicants who aren't causing any trouble. (But this time he is, explicitly, a replicant himself.) He finds out some things, and they lead to some more things, and he finds himself opposed to not-Tyrell.

On the other hand, we find out "what happened" to Deckard and Rachael. And it's grim and depressing and is obviously going to lead to a replicant revolution, but that's not interesting enough to get a film made about it.

Women? Women are hookers with hearts of gold, or slaves in cages, or sexless bosses, or murderbitches, or eye-candy. Woo, variation. Most of them are both passive and victims. Two of them are called "Joi" and "Luv".

I don't find Ryan Gosling particularly appealing, but he did a decent job as K, following a trail of clues while it becomes increasingly clear that someone from not-Tyrell is out to kill him. Then at about the two-thirds mark Harrison Ford comes in to take over (after doing a very clichéd Bad Dad, oh I had to abandon my kid and never be seen again, it was for their own safety), and K's story stops dead. (Sean Young was used as an acting coach for her body double; you couldn't have an (ick) old woman on the screen. She was 57 when this was being made. Ford was 74.)

You have two choices with the soundtrack for a sequel to a film with a distinctive and well-known soundtrack: do something original inspired by the first one, or rip off all the stings and add pastiche around them. That latter didn't work well in The Machine and it doesn't work here. (Nobody seems to have thought of asking Vangelis back, though he was still working at the time.)

We get not one but three separate scenes in which someone directs someone or something else to move a picture about, because we all remember the "enhance" scene from the original. But we don't get anyone in the role of a Roy Batty. Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) ends up trying to do that job (after a false start in which she's implied to be a candidate for K's Rachael), but while she's effective as a conscienceless killer, she doesn't have – none of the replicants does – any of the joy in life which characterised the replicants from the original.

And the "deep philosophy" is all basically from the remake strand of the plot, because we've seen it before. Are replicants people? Well yeah, obviously. They've just been badly indoctrinated to think they aren't. (And if you were growing them from scratch with the intent of making them disposable labour, why would you even include reproductive organs, with all the attendant complications?) Is Deckard a replicant? (Which I always thought was more interesting as a question than as an answer.) There are hints here, but carefully arranged to convey no actual information.

If you have an unsupervised orphanarium like the one we see, why do you need to make replicants for disposable labour at all? This is a crapsack world, just offer people a few bucks and they'll happily work at your dangerous jobs.

Trying to track down some unregistered children, K finds records of a boy and a girl with identical genetic codes. He doesn't, and the rest of the film doesn't, perceive anything even slightly odd about that.

K finally kills Luv. Not-Tyrell is meant to be a huge corporation; why don't they sent ten more after him? Why didn't they send ten to start with? Why did they fire missiles, possibly damaging the guy they wanted to capture, rather than just sending in 2,000 replicant ninjas [sic]?

Ach, I just couldn't come anywhere close to getting absorbed in this. There were too many big and small problems, and the film's more interested in posing questions than in working through any implications. Visually, yeah, visually it's pretty good, though Villeneuve's love of heavy colour grading is distracting as always.

I talk about this film further on Ribbon of Memes.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

See also:
The Machine

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:54pm on 23 May 2023

    It would definitely have been better if they hadn't made this. Unlike you I didn't even like the visuals. The original Blade Runner is a far better film.

  2. Posted by DrBob at 05:05pm on 23 May 2023

    I was massively disappointed when I saw this at the cinema. Liked it a bit better when it got repeated on the telly. But during the TV showing I just wandered off to the loo or to make a cuppa in the cringingly awful cyber girlfriend bits.

    It's one of those annoying SF futures where prostitution is legal, but apparently gay guys and women never fancy shagging one. All cis-het male gaze, all the time.

    Also, as my mate James said at the time: "I bet Deckard gets through a lot of dogs!" He did appear to have booby-trapped his whole house.

    Many people appear to think that you can have identical twins where one is a girl and one is a boy. I've encountered it in RPG scenarios, novels, comics, etc.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 05:23pm on 23 May 2023

    I'm sure a booby-trapped house full of top-grade booze and nobody to talk with is a perfectly safe combination.

  4. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 09:13am on 24 May 2023

    I didn't get what others got from this too. It's visually stunning, but has none of the gravitas of the first film.

    However, with regard to the identical twins things there is a condition called, sesquizygotic (semi-identical) where the girl is X0, which is Turner's syndrome. Here's a reference:

    I once had a woman with Turner's syndrome as a client, so rare to meet, but not impossible.

    Of course in a world where you can breed clones, one could imagine in vitro gene therapy to duplicate the missing X, which would make for an interesting story, just not the one presented.

    Also, I suppose, one could some XXY chicanery, which is the definition of Klinefelter syndrome, where each twin has either one X or one Y switched off. Both would be infertile. This might be the reason why replicants are infertile.

    None of the above excuses the film's lazy science.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 09:34am on 24 May 2023

    Thanks for that. Even if K knew about all of those things, I think his reaction to "this brother and sister have identical genetic codes" should be closer to "huh, that's a bit odd" than "oh, right, twins".

    If the film painted him as ignorant and actually did something with the oddity later, that would be fair enough, but as it is putting it in just betrays the writers' ignorance.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1