“How does it feel, killing your own kind?” asks Sapper Morton, a Nexus 8 replicant. “I don’t mind my own kind because we don’t run. Only older models do,” answers K, a Blade Runner replicant sent to kill Morton.
The sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 takes up thirty years after where Blade Runner, a story in 2019, left off. A lot has happened in between. Though the basics remain the same. It’s said the less you know about Blade Runner 2049 before watching, the more likely you’ll appreciate it. More so if you’ve already at least have seen the first film. I agree. Especially after having seen Blade Runner 2049 twice despite a runtime of two hours 43 minutes, while the first film was three minutes shy of two hours. So from here on I’ll be careful with a few minor spoilers.
Let’s begin with the basics. To reacquaint for those who’ve seen the first film, yet haven’t seen the sequel. And for those who haven’t seen both. To be helpful for a watchable film experience.
The first film Blade Runner takes place in Los Angeles in 2019. The earth is ecologically kaput. It’s either always overcast or acid raining, that from heavy industrial pollution. Because of that you’ll see no green, no trees and not even a blade of grass, which sets the atmosphere. In that era, there are humans, and there are replicants, bioengineered humanoid beings resembling humans.
In 2019 there are the Nexus 6 replicant models created by Dr. Eldon Tyrell, a brilliant scientist and wealthy industrialist who created the replicants for the service of man. The Nexus 6 models were all given just a four year lifespan as a safeguard. All were to serve only on off-world colonies in various roles such as for military combat, kick murder squad assassination, heavy labor for industry, and for pleasure.
Replicants, male and female models, were created to withstand dangerous environments and harsh labor, basically slaves. To withstand such, replicants were designed to be superhumanly strong and agile, with lightning quick reflexes. Because of that, any replicant caught escaping any of the off-world colonies to journey back to earth would be dealt with. Which is where the Blade Runners come in.
In 2019 four Nexus 6 replicants, two males and two females, had escaped an off-world colony to journey back to where they were created at the Tyrell Corporation based in Los Angeles. Their intent, to get Eldon Tyrell to extend their four year lifespan and live as if a human being. This alerted a special unit of the Los Angeles Police Department to assign a Blade Runner, a cop given the task of hunting a replicant down to retire the model. Notice the word kill isn’t used, for one cannot kill that which isn’t human. Such is the futurist dystopian world of Blade Runner.
From the beginning of Blade Runner 2049, it’s been described that the Tyrell Corporation had gone bankrupt, but was acquired by wealthy industrialist Niander Wallace to carry out creating more replicants. Newer improved Nexus models given extended life. Newer models also to obey.
Also in 2049, a replicant can also be a Blade Runner, a Nexus 9 model who never lies, doesn’t run and doesn’t rebel against a human superior. That’s where Officer KD6.3-7, also known simply as K, played by Ryan Gosling, comes in. Blade Runner K is given the task to retire older Nexus 8 models who’ve gone rogue by Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) of LAPD. Thus when he hunts down replicant Sapper Morton played by Dave Bautista, a man of mountainous six-foot six from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, the Nexus 8 model asks, “How does it feel, killing your own kind?” To which the Blade Runner Nexus 9 model K replies, “I don’t mind my own kind because we don’t run. Only older models do.” Of course Sapper Morton didn’t go down easy.
Simply put, Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy sequel. A sci-fi neo-noir film of crime drama, stunning visuals, and more. Building from the sequel while offering the same existential theme. What it means to be human, and to cherish humanity in danger of potential loss alongside of an advanced technological though dystopian world. A metaphor of what can actually happen if we let it. That which makes great sci-fi.
That’s also why the word real is mentioned several times in the film. “We’re all just looking out for something real,” says Lt. Joshi to Blade Runner K as an example from a scene. While also a scene among many offering empathy for replicants, “Replicants lead such hard lives, made to do what we rather not,” says Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) to K, a gifted memory designer to replicants whose work is subcontracted by industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto).
Roger Deakins is worthy to be praised for the cinematography, while other actors involved give memorable performances besides Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, and Carla Juri. There’s the artificially intelligent love interest Joi (Ana de Armas), and lets not dare forget Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, faithful replicant assistant to Niander Wallace. Of course Harrison Ford reprises his role as former Blade Runner Rick Deckard from the first Blade Runner film, and also succeeding. Even Actor Edward James Olmos reprises his role as former Blade Runner Gaff.
The only character in the film that was a bit lacking was Niander Wallace. The role should have more of an impression in the film, more strong. This would have given Jared Leto a memorable performance. Yet it wasn’t a total let down all things considered. For in spite of all, the story still soars as Blade Runner K goes on his discovery odyssey.
Director Denis Villeneuve and Hampton Fancher, writer who also wrote the screenplay to the first Blade Runner film, and Michael Green, co-writer, have all succeeded. Blade Runner 2049 gets four and a half stars out of five.