Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"it's pretty"
"it's dead"

within cells interlinked.

will confess to watching this wrong my first time through which is why i've waited until now to write about it. the secrecy everyone demanded of the central mystery and villeneuve's tendency towards plot led me to spend most of my first viewing anticipating narrative which was an inevitably disappointing experience when the simplicity of the reveals were made apparent. (this is that rare film better off spoiled because there's very little to actually spoil.) however i don't totally regret it because its only deepened this for me as a mood piece about coming to terms with disappointing realities. though personally i've always found scott's choice to reduce humans to a shuffling, monotonous mass so that he could foreground the replicant experience (a sped up microcosm of humanity's own existentialism regarding disenfranchisement and mortality) rather moving, primary criticism of the original film has always been its lack of emotional centre, it's lack of "feeling", which villeneuve and deakins have gotten around by directly interrogating the crushing emotionality of yearning. there's a raw power to the way 2049 manages to dramatize its contrast between the physical world of Blade Runner as an experiential assault―a series of unpopulated, decaying vistas filled with brutalist architecture and extreme weather, the logical endpoint of nightmare capitalism; a harsh, unliveable landscape of useless structures built by slaves for nobody in the name of "progress"―and the sensitive (in some cases loving) frailty it allows its characters, their brief, interludes of subjective fantasy (that love scene is indeed wonderful) all in direct opposition with the dehumanizing settings, pounding score and blunt violence. i've seen lots written about how this signifies a meditation on what it means to be human or "real" in some universal way but it's actually far more personal, the acceptance of what they mean to you. when confronted with the idea that he might be replicant, and his love for rachel a calculated design, deckard's reply is "i know what's real", the doubt on ford's face undermined by the conviction of his belief―it doesn't matter if it's a fact because it's not true. gosling's joe k (has to be a reference to kafka's The Trial, right?) is forced to reckon with a similar question when he learns that he's not the film's Chosen One but really a supporting character in someone else's story, a development that's devastating at first but similarly cast aside when joe realizes there's still value in that role. 2049's ultimate suggestion that at a certain point emotion manifests in action, making it just as real and tangible as our bodies, and you "can't help falling in love."

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