The Cambridge Geek

Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049

This does not contain anywhere near enough plot for the amount of film. Everything took three times longer than it needed to, dragging its feet in order to try and impose some sense of grandeur, and failing miserably. It's full of impressive shots, composed beautifully to tell us that something important is happening, and then runs those shots on far too long. The biggest problem with this film is boredom. Someone might need to take it out the back and explain to it what pacing is.

It's a shame, because the cast are generally impressive. Gosling does a decent turn as the tortured replicant, and Sylvia Hoeks is really enjoyable as the forceful arm of Wallace Corporation. She exudes a power and anger that shows itself in brutally efficient attacks on baseline humanity, in a style that demonstrates just how outdone humanity now is by the replicants.

Ana de Armas is also fantastic as the "Joi" AI, effectively a version of Siri designed for companionship of lonely people. It's a technology that is relatively easy to imagine being around in a decade's time, which will have some very interesting implications for human relationships. It's also an entirely separate film, that I would have been more interested in watching. ("Her" from 2013 comes close.) Still, she was one of the better parts of the film.

She also came with a really interesting idea that was completely ignored. Occasionally throughout the film, you would hear the little AI jingle, effectively as a notification, akin to a phone. This was used merely as a device for people to insult Gosling as an AI lover, but this has much deeper implications. Imagine you're an AI. You're built to keep people company, but when they don't want to deal with you, you're left in a tiny box. Occasionally you knock on the walls of the box, remimding them you're still there. And they swipe you off the screen, not wanting to deal with you at that moment. Fun, no?

Robin Wright has also apparently found her new position as slightly gruff authority figure and does it well. I imagine she'll be doing similar roles for a while.

Shame about Leto though. He's cartoonishly evil. In a film that's trying to explore ambiguity, he's just a git. Seems a bit pointless. Could have wiped him entirely, had Luv secretly running Wallace Corp and a much better (in my opinion) film that had a zeroth law rebellion against other replicants.

Instead we get this mess which seems to be mainly about trying to be clever with references to the original film. Using a well-regarded piece of music from the previous film does not magically make your second film more meaningful. (Soundtrack in general was terrible. Vangelis set the bar high, but it doesn't even feel like they tried.) Also, I know the original "enhance" scene was vaguely trope-making. One version in this film would have been fine.

Plot was in general fairly predictable. There was one particular moment that was interesting, shedding new light on a previous series of events, but this was almost immediately ruined by over-explaining it. It's a film that tries to be entirely climax, in which each scene is a final conclusion to a separate plot. The sum effect is mundanity. Even the sex scene is weirdly boring, and rather spoiled by the suggestion that a computer isn't able to render quickly enough to keep up with human response times.

I know moaning about product placement is increasingly repetitive, but it was still a bit on the nose. "This car crash was sponsored by Peugeot."

Best bit of the film? The dog who was a bit too excited by the trainer off camera, who was evidently going "no, no, this is a sad scene Toto, look sad. Head on paws. Come on, look sad...I'm going to take your squeaky ball away. Excellent! Who's a good sad dog. You are."

Not recommended.

Tagged: Film Science fiction Cyberpunk Fiction Cinema