Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 ★★★

53/100

Was never particularly enthused about the prospect of more Blade Runner—that film ends (at least in the Director's/Final Cut) precisely where it should, with the fast-moving elevator door cutting off all further inquiry. Villeneuve + Deakins signing on gave me hope, and 2049's expansion/subversion of the original's neon-dystopian look frequently astounds, even if there's nothing here quite as iconic as Scott's use of the Bradbury Building. As I feared, though, decades of speculation and analysis led to extreme self-consciousness. This feels less like a sequel to Blade Runner than like an adaptation of collected critical essays about Blade Runner; everything intriguing has been dragged to the surface and rendered inert. At the same time, the mystery/quest narrative kept making me think of The Da Vinci Code, which I'm guessing is not a comparison that anyone involved in 2049's making would welcome. Only Joi's eagerness to be corporeal, and ultimately "mortal," managed to penetrate the thicket of overt philosophical musing and register an emotional impact. And even that aspect suffers from one key scene's similarity (and inferiority) to the finest, most agonizing scene in Her.