Blade Runner 2049 is the long-awaited sequel to the original 1982 movie Blade Runner. The original Blade Runner at first received mix reviews, but eventually was heralded as an American classic. The new movie takes place in the year 2049, where bioengineered humans, called replicants, have been integrated into society by Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), a pioneering scientist in the world of androids. A couple of these newer replicants are given the task of “retiring,” or killing the older models, as they are unstable and have gone rogue. These enforcing replicants are known as blade runners. K (Ryan Gosling), one of the blade runners, finds out a secret that can alter the fragile balance between humans and androids in one of his missions. As K and his superior, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), investigate, they realize there is only one person who can tie the whole mystery together: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former blade runner who vanished years ago. Thus, it is up to K to find Deckard and find out the truth, before his competition, the Wallace Corporation, does.
One of the underlying questions of the movie is what makes humans human. In the past decade or so, humanity has built hundreds of machines and robots that are able to do tasks much quicker and more efficiently than humans. Artificial intelligence has the potential to leap ahead of human intelligence. The only reason why robots haven’t taken over the world is because humans are able to reason, while androids aren’t. However, Blade Runner 2049 explores the possibility where androids are able to reason and show emotions. The replicants are so deeply integrated into society that most of them are mistaken for humans. In the movie, they show affection towards one another and can feel pain and joy and sorrow. So would these replicants be considered humans since they are able to reason and feel emotions? Why shouldn’t they be? The movie seems to remind us that humans often seem the least humane, whereas androids often show human touches that make the flesh and blood blush in shame. Our obsession with differences and the “other” is as hold as humanity itself.
Given the important and emotional issues raised by the movie, issues that are important to our increasingly diverse society, it is frustrating that the movie starts so slow. The first third of the movie is ponderous and extremely slow-paced. Denis Villeneuve, the director of the movie, is known for slow-burning dramas and they work most of the time. But with Blade Runner 2049, one feels that the plot could have been tighter and the action and the characters more urgent. Couple that with the movie’s extremely long runtime (almost 3 hours long), it could repel new Blade Runner fans. Some people might even view the movie as pretentious and purposefully dragged out.
Overall, Blade Runner 2049, was a fantastic movie. Villeneuve did an excellent job of catering towards all types of viewers. There are action-packed scenes, love scenes, philosophical scenes, suspenseful scenes, and peaceful scenes. The plot was unbelievably intricate and very-well thought out. It explores modern-day issues such as diversity and technology. Movies don’t have to be about deep philosophical issues. But, when they are able to combine enjoyment with reflection, respect is deserved.