The history of “Blade Runner” is one of commercial failure, a series of frustrating re-writes, a tragic death and the blue print for what a science fiction film should be.
The movie is based from a novel titled “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by the prolific novelist Phillip K. Dick. After directing “Alien”, Ridley Scott drafted a script based off the original novel and titled it “Blade Runner”. Phillip Dick died before the movie was released in theaters, but judging from his correspondence with Scott and the production studios he was not only enthusiastic but proud of the work they accomplished.
The story of the original “Blade Runner” is simple. At the dawn of the 21 century, the Tyrell Corporation unveiled a series of synthetic humanoids called Replicants. These constructs appear human but possess abilities far greater than our own and have a life span far shorter than ours. After many attempts at integration, the Replicants prove that they are a detriment to society, which in effect caused a class of mercenaries to be created known as Blade Runners to track down rogue Replicants.
“Are we really the good guys?”
“Is this world real or an artificial construct?”
Any film or novel that makes the audience question their surroundings or lot in life should always be held in a higher regard over its contemporaries.
The sequel, “Blade Runner 2049”, was directed by Denis Villaneuve and takes place 32 years after the original film. Like the prequel, the movie takes place in Los Angeles, a city that is over-crowded and polluted. Mankind has finally exhausted the planet and the only viable option is to live off world.
Portayed by Ryan Gosling, K is a Replicant Blade Runner tasked with tracking down a lead in an investigation that could have intergalactic ramifications. K is every bit as ruthless and methodical as his predecessor Deckard, who makes an appearance in the film.
His abilities as a Replicant give him not only a tactical edge over his enemies, but because of his programming he exhibits zero human emotions. In between the peppered scenes of ruthless, efficient-killing K is either interviewed by his callous and weary supervisor Lieutenant Joshi or repeatedly screened by a harsh psychiatric computer that screens him for abnormalities due to moments of post-traumatic stress he experiences on the job.
Since K is not human, he is able to pass every exam placed in front on him, but his interactions with humans make him unique. K experiences every form of physical and verbal abuse you can imagine at the hands of the humans he was designed to protect and the Replicants he was sworn to destroy and calmly takes it. It’s an interesting dichotomy between his work and his own personal life.
His personal life revolves around an apartment that is well-kept despite the age and damage of the building. His only emotional connection is an AI that uses an advanced holographic system named Joi.
Like K, Joi is a mass-produced construct designed to keep lonely men occupied in a crumbling world. His entire relationship with her is sincere, but for many viewers it may come off as technophilia. The film uses his vulnerabilities to make him seem not like the devastating machine that he is, but show that he’s no different than any normal human.
He has accepted his lot in life as an expendable asset and continues to do his job until his latest assignment not only puts his existence at risk but the lives of trillions of humans and replicants.
The entire cast and crew deserve recognition for their individual achievements. The visuals are not only grandiose but mind-bending. The score written by Hans Zimmer uses industrial noises such as motorcycle engines and morphs them into a beautiful and dystopic auditory tapestry. The acting and ultraviolence may seem off-putting to some.
Blade Runner 2049 has something for all audiences and even if you are a fan of Ryan Gosling, watching him being beaten to death repeatedly over the span of two hours is oddly satisfying.