Blade Runner 2049 review; Neon-noir

Blade Runner 2049 is an exceptionally crafted visual treat. Building upon the world that the original Blade Runner had already created, we see Villeneuve explore interesting ways that blend cutting-edge cool with very tangible technological realities already present in our present world i.e holograms. Environmentally, Blade Runner 2049 envisions a world more polarized than today; Parts of our world are ravaged by decay and destruction and wither into forgotten landscapes. The cold brutality of technological ideologues ushers in a new world driven by ‘oneness’, ‘wholeness’ and the misguided search for perfect beings. Blade Runner 2049’s lofty grandiose detracts more than emphasizes at times, but it is nevertheless still a satire worth it’s salt. In times like ours, a film like this is all the more prescient. In a world where all of us are just leading our small, individual separate lives, how many of us have stopped to upend the established order and considered the lives of others?

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Beautifully decrepit landscapes, cyberpunk metropolitans and estranged individuals in society dominate the visual style of Blade Runner 2049. Officer K’s (Ryan Gosling) investigation-turned-self-journey provided a great window into the lives of secondary characters who each had something to say about the world they inhabited. Part of Officer K’s journey felt very much like what we saw in Gosling’s Drive. There’s something about the stoic, inward and introspective Ryan Gosling that makes him perfect for portraying  new-age neo-noir vignettes. Denis Villeneuve largely succeeds in what he’s trying to do here. He manages to question the value of humanity and empathy in a world that neither demands or offers it. But Villeneuve’s process is a long and arduous one that alienates in ways that his previous films did not. The film is uneccessarily long and includes trivial scenes with high dramatic tension. It makes for pretty anticipation but the frequency of it suggests something where there’s nothing. I felt like many of the scenes were fantastically shot, paced and framed but the less impressive ones took way too long to be over and left visual indents that distracted more than it provoked.

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This is purely subjective but I felt like there was something about Blade Runner 2049’s technique that made it difficult to connect disparate images. This film is beautiful. But it lacks that narrative gel that makes each moment naturally momentous. Quite a number of scenes felt forced. I also had a hard time following parts of the plot. Perhaps the most jarring plotpoint is how the doctor in the enclosed laboratory had planted K with her visions to get him to reconnect her with her father (Harrison Ford). That was a switcheroo-inception that failed to translate on-screen for me and made it extremely confusing when I was watching the film. Weaknesses aside, Blade Runner 2049’s visual panache is mostly backed up with strong performances and powerful satire. Neo-noir is by no means new. But what’s profound about Blade Runner 2049’s sci-fi neo-noir is the subject of it’s neo-noir elements. Great neo-noir films are able to bring out something fresh from the genre. Neo noir greats like Drive highlighted the importance of the anti-hero whilst Chinatown placed emotional catharsis on us,the viewers, as we reel in the unforgiving harshness of our world. While I don’t consider Blade Runner 2049 an exceptional neo-noir film, it is difficult to ignore the questions of identity that it raises.

Officer K’s denouement seems to be that the greatest realization of personal identity is, ironically, to displace your own interests for the interests of another. That sort of altruistic sacrifice and the ability to empathize with someone else is the greatest form of humanity and fulfilment. For all the new world values of eternity and perfection espoused by zealots like Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), Blade Runner 2049 is a prescient warning that we shouldn’t lose ourselves; To be brave in the brutal, new world.

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Rating: 8.4/10

 

 

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. It is an inspiring theme: to displace your own interests for the interest of others. I think, in order to do it, one needs to have empathy, as you said. It all hinges on empathy. Without it, the task is meaningless, and therefore impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Without empathy, lives would be meaningless. I thought it was something new that blade runner brought into the genre 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. table9mutant says:

    Nice review! A beautiful film, although not perfect. It’ll be considered a classic years from now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Miss Mutant!! Interesting thought, yeah i agree it’ll probably take some time for people to see it’s true worth like the original one. I did feel it was abit artificial but nonetheless a fantastic film!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ghostof82 says:

    Very nice review. It’s a great movie. Did you watch it a second time? Some of the issues you had may have been resolved on subsequent viewings. I watched it three times and it improved every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man 🙂 Nope but I might have to sometime again. It does seem like a chore to watch it again though haha,does seem quite long 😛

      Like

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