In 1982, Ridley Scott brought to the silver screen a post-apocalyptic universe—a fictional future of synthetic humans known as replicants who aspire for immortality and blade runners sent to 'retire' them, of corporate giants and technological advancements devoid of human emotions.
Blade Runner, a cinematic retelling of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, borrowed well from Nietzschean Overman and the Judaistic fallen angel as far as the aspirations of the replicants were concerned. When French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve takes the bridle to create a sequel to the 1982 epic along with a talented line of actors, including Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks and Harrison Ford who is back as Rick Deckard, the old model replicants are more concerned about survival and protection of their kind than life immortal.
Villeneuve, who has an impressive list of films to his credit—Sicario, Enemy, Prisoners and the recent Arrival—creates an age and time that is far into the future where a large number of replicants have been developed to cater to every human need imaginable and there's a pressing need to create millions more. His protagonist, code-named 'K', is again tasked with hunting down old replicants who have gone rouge and eliminating them. During one of his regular 'retirement' routines, 'K' stumbles upon a secret that has the power to alter the course of replicant history. What follows is a journey of self-discovery, curious encounters and poignantly beautiful memories—a visually and emotionally satisfying fiesta.
Although Villeneuve has a distinct advantage over Scott when it comes to the use of technology, he makes a smart choice by staying away from over-reliance on graphics, giving the film the much-required realistic touch. Fans of HBO's Westworld may be tad too familiar with memory implants and android hosts who are forced to live on false memories in a world that repeats itself. Villeneuve, too, spares sufficient time to delve into memory implants and the constituents that make a memory more than a mere recollection of events that have gone past, proving once again that he can deliver a well-crafted movie despite the genre and themes that are before him.
Old man Deckard (Ford) still retains some of his fuel and he sure can pack a punch or two. While the first half of the film is safe on the sturdy shoulders of Gosling, Ford deftly carries the third act as Gosling takes a backseat. Vulnerability, which appears to be the trait of every Gosling character, suits 'K' or Joe, who struggles with his everyday task of eliminating replicants. Despite his atypical appearance and talk, Lato, who plays replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace, is heavily underused while Hoeks, who plays Wallace's assassin, is at her menacing best.
Hans Zimmer proves once again that when it comes to scoring, he is one of the finest out there. Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch presents a compelling and intense soundscape that include some of the great songs of legends Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
Like the original three decades ago, Villeneuve's version of Blade Runner, too, poses a few questions on freedom, sacrifice, allegiance and love. Notwithstanding its bleak settings and dark tones, the film resonates with hope for a better morrow for replicants. In one of his recent interviews, the director had said "It’s a movie that I feel has, in a strange way, an optimistic ending. I’m glad about that, because I need to have that kind of optimism in the world today." The ending is indeed optimistic and rewarding, for Deckard and for everyone who roots for replicants.
Film: Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks