Blade Runner 2049: Noir + Sci-fi + Ryan Gosling = Cyberpunk Remastered

EXT. Dank, Dark City Street – Night

The sky has opened up its despair on the inhabitants of (insert fictional noir city). A lone man in an awesome trench coat, coasts down the sidewalk. Mystery shrouds him in a blanket of cool. He halts to light up a cigarette, take a long, sexy pull, then glance back over his shoulder at you. As you swoon, so too does the moody jazz music.

Voice over: It was a night like any other night in this garbage lined cesspool of a city. Rats howling at the moon, pick-pockets gorging themselves on the spoils of their cons, basic girls lapping up the last of spilled pumpkin spiced latte flowing down into the drains, lost forever; posters for the Big Bang Theory’s prequel spinoff called Young Sheldon plastered everywhere.

*Jazz music intensifies*

Voice over: All hope seems lost.

Continuing through the rain, down a dark alley, our super cool, noir detective steps into the fading light of a wayward street lamp; jazz music approaching its crescendo.

Voice over: But then I realized, Blade Runner 2049 just opened in cinemas everywhere. Maybe, tonight…there is hope after all.

Jazz music peaks, as our slick, brooding protagonist crosses a rain-soaked street toward the entrance of a rundown theater, with a flickering “Blade Runner 2049” strewn across the marquee.

This is Noir. Now let’s take it a step further by adding our hard-boiled detective to a futuristic, dystopian Los Angeles covered in massive holographic advertisements for long bankrupt 80’s companies and replace the jazz music with a guy falling asleep on a synth every few minutes, and you’ve just walked through the closet portal into the world of Blade Runner.

Oh yes, Blade Runner, the Citizen Kane of movies you’ve never seen but hear about all time from film geeks of all race and creed. A cult film if there ever were one. But for good reason.

Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi Noir masterpiece from the 80’s has been one of the most influential films in cinematic history. Blade Runner follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a Blade Runner (duh), tasked with hunting down and retiring 4 bioengineered humans called replicants who have stolen a ship from an off-world colony, and returned to Earth to find their creator. This film is a deep dive into the world Sci-Fi, thoughtfully exploring the nature of humanity and consciousness all wrapped up in a Noir crime thriller. But what really elevated this film into the pantheon of film divinity was Sir Scott’s fully realized vision of a dystopian future that, rather than explain this world and its history, invites you to live and experience along with our less fun Han Solo.

Now, if you want a complete review and analysis of the original, I recommend using a little known site called “Google” to find out more. There you will discover a community of cult followers who have been discussing this film for decades. There’s no need for me repeat what’s already been repeated endlessly about Blade Runner, so here I’ll transition to Blade Runner 2049 by saying this:

Blade Runner 2049 is a Sci-Fi masterpiece on par with the original.

BR 2049 (if you have to ask you can’t afford it [name that movie?]) brilliantly expands on the themes of humanity explored through the struggles of this new generation of replicants, while also standing as its own film, which to me, is BR 2049’s strongest quality. And that’s saying something, because 2049 does not have a weak link…anywhere.

Visionary direction by Denis Villeneuve, a tight screenplay, powerful acting, mesmerizing production design integrated with dazzling visual effects, and the score, oh my, the visceral, pulsating electronic score of who else but Hans Zimmer, once again immerses the audience entirely in this futuristic world. Blade Runner 2049 is an experiential film for all those watching.

Now I’m reticent to dive deeper into this review, because it’s nearly impossible to do so without spoiling the plot. But I will say, this film is going to get a lot of Oscar love this year, and even more love from the internet vloggers as they release think piece after think piece about what it means to be human, environmental catastrophe, artificial intelligence, whether Deckard is a human or replicant, or whether Harrison Ford is a human or replicant?

I’ll take a step out of my own occasionally pretentious film opinions to say that you should not go into this movie expecting a light, fun, and short story about robots and man learning how to get along and share. Blade Runner 2049 is a 2 hour and 44 minute journey, meandering through the investigation of Ryan Gosling’s, Detective K, with the scorching pace of a bureaucratic body of snails trying to pass legislation, as he seeks to uncover a secret that could change the fate of the world. It’s a contemplative film that asks more questions than it answers. Which is why I can’t stop thinking about days after initially seeing it.

To summarize Blade Runner 2049 may already be a Sci-Fi classic. However, the general movie goer may have a hard getting on board. Its slow and it is HARD.CORE. sci-fi, which unfortunately is not everyone’s shot of espresso, and still very much a slow, character-driven noir like its predecessor. Not to mention, if you haven’t seen the original, it may be even harder to get invested in this world.

I loved this film. You should see. And if you can’t at least appreciate it for the artistic feat that Blade Runner 2049 is, then I’ll have to pay you visit and ask a series of questions to find out if you’re really human or not.

Post-script: I can guarantee I’ll revisit Blade Runner/Blade Runner 2049 with a more in depth, well thought out review once I’ve felt that 1. enough time has passed for everyone to have a chance to see it thereby mitigating my concern for spoilers and properly discussing the film and B. I’ve seen this film a time or two more and I can adequately digest this dense, cerebral film.  I could tell as I was writing this blog, Blade Runner had my thoughts, opinions, and jokes in complete disarray. Part of its splendor.

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