Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 ★★★★½

There's an elegant simplicity buried beneath the subtly soulful performances, elaborately filthy cyberpunk production design, labyrinthine procedural noir mystery, and gorgeous cinematography of this pseudo-cult paragon.

What does it mean to make a choice?

KD6-3.7 was designed for a purpose: 'retire' rogue replicants. He's good at his job, sheepishly avoiding the ire of his human superiors as he carves out his niche and saves up bonuses to enhance his Joi unit, the one thing that brings him a modicum of happiness. But every time she glitches, he's reminded that everything about his existence is artificial.

Around him, the demands of multinational industry, law enforcement, simulated affection, and possible revolution compete for his attention, each presenting its own set of variables, none of which offer nourishment to his intellect or soul.

So when a chance to prove to himself that he might be more than just another replicant arises, he sparks to the occasion. The notion that his fate is not predetermined soaks the dry gauze that was his existence, dampening him with a mere possibility of an opportunity to think and feel for himself.

- Minor spoilers below. -

The world of Eldon Tyrell, Rick Deckard, and Rachael is an artifact, of consequence only as a story that ignites K's dive into intrigue, and himself. In pursuit of a missing child born of a replicant, everyone serves their masters: Luv serves Wallace, who is as beholden to bolstering industry as Lt. Joshi is to law enforcement maintaining a status quo, while Mariette and Freysa are beholden to the replicant underbelly. KD6-3.7 is as beholden to his programming as Joi is to hers, giving her owner what he wants to hear and see. When Joi makes love to K in unison with Mariette, she attempts to give him something 'real', but these affections are as artificial as placing a holographic steak over a bowl of slop.

When confronted by this menagerie of competing desires, each suiting the demands of commerce, justice, love, and equality, each insisting upon its own hegemony, KD6-3.7 must decide what is most important to him in a world that has clearly gone wrong.

How do we assign value to our lives? Is it through money, morality, sex, or the nebulous ideations that we have some greater relevance? That we belong to an ongoing hierarchy that insists upon what we own, who we love, how we love them, and what we do before we die?

- Major spoilers abound. -

While KD6-3.7 may wrestle with these questions, he ultimately determines that reuniting Deckard with his daughter means more than maintaining a status quo that is clearly poisonous, and the simple, redemptive humanity of this action clearly means more to him than his life.

And why not? In the end, it is his rebellion against everything he is expected to embody that makes him more compassionate and human than everyone around him. As far as replicants are concerned, Luv may be 'the best one', but she's still fighting for the same old bullshit. K sees it. He fights against it. And he fucking drowns her in it. When K chokes Luv out, he isn't just avenging the death of his girlfriend, he's finishing off everything that tells him who he's supposed to be, definitively proving that mettle outstrips design. And that's the power of embracing one's free will.

Bryan liked these reviews