Blade Runner 2049

The 453rd film I have seen in theaters…

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35 years of Blade Runner. 35 years of neo-noir perfection. Now we have a new Blade Runner. Now we have a cinematic masterpiece to stand proudly with the original.

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Keep in mind- the last film I saw before this was the original. That is a tough act to LITERALLY follow.

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30 years after Deckard ran away with Rachael, humanity has had some hard times. In 2022 an anti-replicant hysteria overtook the planet. Replicants were being hunted and lynched using the government databases tot track them. A replicant revolution arose which caused a world-wide blackout as they destroyed the databases. Replicants were somewhat safer, but then disaster struck.

The world’s ecosystem began to fail. Starvation decimated the population as more and more humans fled to the stars. One young visionary, Niander Wallace, revolutionized artificial farming techniques and saved humanity. He uses his newfound power to resurrect the replicant program. Our protagonist, “K”, is a replicant Blade Runner tasked with “retiring” older models. He stumbles upon a decades old secret that could change the world. Before dying, Tyrell, creator of the replicants, was experimenting with allowing them to procreate.

As evidence is discovered that a replicant baby was actually born, several factions move into action. Living in an irradiated Las Vegas sits a man who may be the key to this mystery. Rick Deckard.

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I said it after “La La Land”. I said it after “The Nice Guys”. I will say it again. Ryan Gosling is fucking movie star in an era where we don’t have them anymore. Back in the day, we would eagerly anticipate the next film by a movie star. Cary Grant, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone. The last of this breed looked to be Will Smith, who has recently started to stumble out of the “must see” category. We follow the IP now, the franchise, not the actor.

I am making it a point to see every Ryan Gosling movie from here on out. He is an EXCELLENT actor who has shown that he knows how to pick his projects. His K was astoundingly good. Far more developed than Deckard was in the original, Gosling brought such emotion to this role. A+

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Speaking of star power- Harrison Ford will always have it. We are living through a very strange period in his career. After a decade of hard work, he burst onto the scene in Star Wars and was a legitimate box office draw for decades. He receded and took smaller roles for a while. Now he is back, and while not the “star” of the films he is in, he is certainly an essential part of the stories they are telling. Combine this with the fact that he is revisiting all of his most famous roles (Han Solo, Rick Deckard, Indiana Jones) and we have something very special.

Deckard shows up in the final act of the film and is riveting. His interplay with Gosling was really good. He can still throw a punch (along with that trademark sound effect they always use when he throws one), but he can also step aside to let Gosling be the hero. A part of me is quite sad as this will likely be the final stretch of his career. At 75, he’s got a good 5-10 years left as he stays in excellent shape, but the end is coming. I, for one, feel blessed to have this late renaissance for him.

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Bursting onto the screen is actress Ana de Armas who portrays K’s love interest- Joi: a hologram. She’s been in several films over the last decade but this is her breakout role. She actually makes us care about an artificial character that falls in love with another artificial character lol. Excellent acting. Excellent writing. We will be seeing her in more films I am sure.

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Sylvia Hoeks plays our main antogonist- “Luv”, a replicant assistant/assassin that is following K in search of the child. She does a great job in the action scenes and has an appropriate level of menace. Her scene with Robin Wright was very well done. At the end of the day, she’s no Roy Batty though.

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Speaking of Robin Wright, was a career resurgence has she’s had! While she’s always given great performances, the last 4 or 5 years have been astonishing. House of Cards, Wonder Woman; she is standing out in front of the pack and becoming the first of a new cadre of actresses that are not letting the advance of time stop them. She’s 50, and thriving, in a business that considered women useless after 40. Go get em Robin, you are awesome.

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Mackenzie Davis is Mariette, the Replicant hooker. She takes part in one of the most memorable sex scenes in cinema, and is revealed in the third act to be much more than a love bot, but not much else. She did fine, but there was not much to go with.

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Carla Juri is Dr Stelline- the greatest creator of “memories” for the replicants. She only has 2 scenes in the film, but they are good ones.

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Dave Bautista is the actor John Cena wishes he was. While everyone was focused on The Rock, The Miz, and the emerging Cena- Bautista is outpacing them all. He can be tough, sensitive, hilarious, menacing. His role as Sapper, an old model replicant, sets our story into motion. I urge all to watch the short “Blade Runner 2048” where we see a bit of this guy’s story. Way to go Drax.

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Jared Leto is a really great actor. He is also batshit crazy, which works for his role as Wallace- the Billionaire replicant mastermind.

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Edward James Olmos returns as Graff, now living in a nursing home. Small scene, nice to see him again.

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“Young” Sean Young returns as Rachael. Wait…

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A lot of people are responsible for this movie. The actors were amazing. Ridley Scott played an important role. Hans Zimmer gave us another great soundtrack. Hampton Francher, original screenwriter of Blade Runner, returns to  pen this film. So many moving parts need to come together to make a great movie, but two are essential to me: The Director and the Cinematographer.

Denis Villenueve has entered my pantheon of directing gods. Sicario- Awesome. Arrival- one of the best Sci-Fi movies of the last decade. Blade Runner 2049 – one of the best sequels ever made, the best film I’ve seen so far in 2017, and a masterpiece. One of his next projects is an adaptation of one of my top 3 books: Dune. (The others are The Great Gatsby and Rendevous with Rama.) This is a director I will always follow. he has proven himself.

Roger Deakins is probably the greatest cinematographer of the last 25 years. Shawshank Redemption. The Big Lebowski and the numerous other collaborations with the Coens. Skyfall. Now he seems to be linked with Villenueve- having done 3 films with him. Nothing but good can come from this.

Okay, so how do I wrap up this love fest? It is astonishing good. A worthy successor to the original. It might have even come close to exceeding the original if they had a performance worthy of Rutger Hauer’s, but they did not. That was lightning in a bottle.

It is very difficult to make a sequel to a classic that is also itself a classic. The Godfather Part II, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator 2, and now Blade Runner 2049. No one thought we needed this movie, until we saw it. Now we cannot imagine not having it. It does nothing but enrich the original.

To Ridley Scott, Denis Villenueve, Roger Deakins, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and everyone else involved, thank you.

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