Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

Alright, the time is now. After months of arguing with different people on this, it is time for me to finally articulate on Letterboxd why I have such massive disdain for this movie.

Anyone looking at my profile can see that I idolize the first Blade Runner, so a lot of people have asked me to clarify whether I hate this as a science-fi movie or as a Blade Runner sequel. The answer is: I think it fails on both accounts, and I refuse to believe that I'm blinded by nostalgia of the first. This movie truly just sucks and let me tell you why. Of course I am going to draw comparisons -- but that's part of my problem with it.

This movie never escapes the shadow of it's predecessor. In fact it tries directly to remind you of the first movie every opportunity it gets, and only explores a fraction of what made the first film so interesting. An actual movie that took inspiration from the world of the 1982 film and ACTUALLY expounded on the themes which lead to an interesting movie was the original Ghost in the Shell. To me, that movie is as close as we'll ever come to a true Blade Runner sequel.

And that's because this movie doesn't raise a moral question. Despite what it tries to make you think, it is not an existential film. The whole of this problem lies in what actually motivates Kay. In the 1982 film Deckard really isn't that interesting. It's the situations that surround him, the world, and the replicants that make it interesting. Without Roy Beatty and his gang, there is nothing to set Deckard apart or make him question his motivation and identity. In 2049, Deckard isn't fit to be this foil for Kay, and what we end up is following a flat character on his journey for the straight man of the original.

They shoehorn in a love interest to try and fool you into thinking that they made the world more complex, when really they are just echoing themes that have been explored better in other dystopian movies that ALREADY took inspiration from Blade Runner, such as Her by Spike Jonze. But Joi affects nothing of the overall plot, Kay doesn't change any of his actions based on what happens to her, and really her impact not only on the plot but the story itself add up to -- absolutely nothing.

Instead we are stuck with an unbearably slow MacGuffin chase. Kay's job is to find a specific person, and he spends a good half the movie pretending to find himself and it leads to absolutely no consequence. The problem with this movie as a sequel especially is that the stakes have been drastically lowered. We don't care about the mcguffin, he was the least interesting part of the first film without the villains to play the foil for him. The stakes only finally start to raise near the end with the talk of some "revolution". And that goes absolutely nowhere and I'm still convinced it was a part of vain hope the studio had to franchise this series, which would be more shameless than this entire movie. The number of shorts they released before this film came out is further evidence that convinces me that's what they were trying to do here. Disgusting.

Pair all of that with cringe-worthy dialogue that also doesn't hold the poetic weight it used to without the philosophical question to back it up, and also with Villenueve's ever-torturous slow pacing, and you wind up with a Blade Runner sequel made for a post-existential, hyper-sensationalized society that believes an art film comprises of an attractive couple and pretty shots. I can hardly believe that I've lost 6 hours of my life watching this now. It's an awful and infuriating movie whose worst sin is simply being lame and uninteresting within the best sci-fi world ever crafted. This film so angered me specifically because it truly is everything I hate about modern cinema. Sure there are far worse films — but I never felt this unsatisfied as the credits roll.  And with that, I've said my peace on the matter.

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