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Blade Runner 2049

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to imagine a better sequel to BLADE RUNNER than BLADE RUNNER 2049, especially after seeing Ridley Scott’s two interesting but sloppy prequels to ALIEN. Here Scott acts as producer, wisely handing the reins over to Denis Villeneuve (PRISONERS, ENEMY, SICARIO, ARRIVAL), so we get the gorgeous visuals and elliptical philosophizing, but with a stronger narrative and more coherent ideas than Scott prefers these days. It couldn’t exist without building on the 1982 film’s world and style and feel, of course, so I’m not saying it’s better, but to me this detective lead and the mystery he’s solving are much more absorbing than the earlier version.

Not that it’s trying to be accessible. Doesn’t seem too long to me, but it’s 2 hours and 43 minutes, or one DAWN OF THE DEAD plus a sitcom including commercials plus 6 more minutes. It’s mostly slow and quiet, though Benjamin Wallfisch (IT) and Hans Zimmer (BROKEN ARROW)’s Vangelis-inspired score sometimes builds to a tempest, and a few great action beats spring up among its handfuls of violence. What excites me most, though, are the simple atmospheric touches, like the gentle burble of a pot of garlic boiling on the stove as fugitive replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista, HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN) is ambushed by an intruder sitting quietly in the dark, confronting him calmly.

It’s K (Ryan Gosling, ONLY GOD FORGIVES), an LAPD detective who is (opening scene spoiler) himself a “skin job,” but working to track down all remaining replicants that aren’t programmed to die. His powers of observation on this case lead him to a shocking discovery that “breaks the world” according to his boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright, BEOWULF), so she assigns him to cover it up. To maintain order.

It does feel like we’re back in the world of BLADE RUNNER, and it has many retro touches: green computer text, giant Atari logos, micro-fiche-inspired data files. But it’s not the fetishistic nostalgia porn we’re so used to seeing now. Nods to the first film feel organic, not like “fan service.” This is not a movie I can imagine people whooing at. I can imagine them sighing like they’re waking up for the first time in the morning 4-5 times throughout the movie, but only because that’s what the guy in the row behind me did.

Anyway, the place has changed. Buildings are tall and covered in enormous holographic ads, but there has been an ecological catastrophe, a blackout and a nuclear explosion since last time. And the robot making Tyrell Corporation has gone out of business thanks to bad publicity over events like the ones in the first film. The Voight-Kampff test has become obsolete; identifying replicants is faster and easier. Blade Running seems a little more niche. It’s just tracking down serial numbers to cross off of a list. Some day the whole list will be black ink, and blade running won’t be a job. They’ll all have to transfer to air traffic or something.

There’s some fun new tech. I like the grappling kite that disables flying cars. I love his car’s sunroof that’s actually a detachable voice-commanded drone that does his crime scene photography for him. And the “baseline” test he has to take at headquarters to stay obedient. Not unrelated, the sound design on this movie is A+, reminding me of THX 1138 at certain points.

Villeneuve doesn’t seem interested in demonizing cities the way BLADE RUNNER’s influential dystopic metropolis did. The most depressing swaths of the world we see are industrial: the “protein farm” raising some sort of edible millipedes, the semi-legal “orphanage” where tiny kids tear apart electronic garbage for salvageable components. The majority of the movie takes place away from the menacing city, in day-lit, open spaces. Cinematographer Roger Deakins (THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE) shoots eerie dust and mist, sometimes with vivid color (usually yellow), leaving a completely different visual impression from what Jordan Cronenweth did in Scott’s film, while seeming in the same tradition.

The future isn’t all bad. There’s a fascinating subplot about K’s doting girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas, KNOCK KNOCK). She’s a hologram, and at first it seems like a pathetic sexist fantasy toy, an automated pretend housewife. Then he buys her a device to link into a network so she’s no longer chained to his ceiling projector, and we see the pure bliss on her face when she leaves the apartment for the first time, and feels rain on her arm for the first time (which in her case means it goes through her and her programming knows to animate simulated rain drops on her skin).

But as soon as we’ve bonded with her K gets a call from the lieutenant and this automatically puts Joi on hold – her image, her life, her digital soul frozen in place, put on pause until he’s off of work again. Crushing.

Like HER, it brings up interesting questions about the limits of the definition of love, and the importance of corporeal existence. Even though they’re both AI and it’s their personalities that make them “alive,” it seems tragic that he can only pantomime touching her. In another scene he interviews a witness who stays behind glass, and it seems like an echo of Joi – a conversation between two people who cannot touch or be close, only create the illusion when his reflection overlaps her image. (IMPLIED SPOILER: In retrospect, this also foreshadows a major plot twist.)

My relationship with the original BLADE RUNNER is complicated. As a young man I considered it one of the all time greats. In 2007, though, I saw a gorgeous presentation of The Final Cut at the Cinerama and came out colder than expected. I got alot of shit for the review I wrote when I realized I no longer liked Deckard – he’s dull and bad at his job, which is also immoral. Some of that’s intentional, and it also doesn’t void the movie’s towering achievements in design, sound, cinematography, mood, or what we now call “world building,” but for me it takes away from the story as the movie seems to abruptly slam on the brakes every time it switches from the captivating Pris and Roy to the dull-ass Deckard and Rachel.

Damn, that was ten years ago. I figured and hoped that the next viewing would change my mind back on that shit, but no such luck last month. Next time, I’ve decided, I should watch the theatrical cut. Not only is that the version I remember loving (and what are we but a collection of memories?), but it’s the version before Scott publicly said Deckard was a replicant. I like the question, but I hate his answer. Why the fuck would they make a replicant that didn’t have replicant strength, and was bad at being a detective, and assign it to be a detective that has to capture stronger replicants, and then trick it into thinking it’s human? To me it seems like one of those misguided quasi-mindblowing fan theories like claiming a character is actually a ghost in a movie where it would not be at all cool for that character to actually be a ghost. Nevertheless, the director’s and final cuts end on this unicorn thing that I only know from reading the internet means that he’s a replicant, which obviously is not the note I want it to go out on. Maybe the bullshit happy ending is for me.

So that’s where I’m coming from when I say 2049 captures so much of the BLADE RUNNER feel I love without giving me the same complaints. To me, the character of K is very compelling, which makes his place in the world as a blade runner more tragic. He’s sort of a backwards homicide detective, going around busting people for being alive. He’s interesting to watch because he does do very good detective work, and the tangents that become more interesting than the main story – like the whole section introducing Joi – are about him, not a departure from him like with Deckard in BLADE RUNNER.

As much as I’m grousing about Deckard (Harrison Ford, MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI), his late appearance in this movie is strong. It takes place primarily in an abandoned Las Vegas casino – futuristic to us, ruins to them. A fight is punctuated by a broken hologram projector belching brief apparitions of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Liberace performing on stage, soul-less ancestors of Joi, I suppose. And a sign that Vegas never found new icons, not even Celine Dion or Carrot Top. But they are malfunctioning illusions of long ago memories, fitting company for cinema’s most famous futuristic-is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-robot-old-timey-detective.

By the way I’m very happy that they (SPOILER?) avoid defining whether Deckard is human or not, and introduce a way more important question for this generation to ponder: is his dog a replicant?

This movie is awesome stop reading and go see it but if you have already then you may now accompany me into THE HEAVY SPOILER ZONE, presented by Atari. I love the way the mystery messes with our expectations as people going to see a long-awaited sequel. At first, with the body found on a new character’s property, the connection to the first movie is not apparent. Later we realize it’s Rachel and then that she and Deckard somehow had a kid and the movie leads us to suspect that K is that kid, and tells us that he believes that as well, without ever coming right out and directly saying it.

As huge of an implication as that is, it doesn’t seem too shocking, because that’s the obvious way to do these late sequels and reboots and what not: the new guy is the son of the old guy. [examples: ROAD HOUSE 2 – Dalton’s son. TRON LEGACY – Flynn’s son. INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE – Will Smith’s character’s son. THE FORCE AWAKENS – Han and Leia’s son vs. TBD. E.T. 2 – E.T.’s son Jerry T.] So when that turns out not to be the case – K is practically called “You big silly!” for having thought it – it’s a welcome subversion of that type of story as well as all the “chosen one” stories. It says that we all see ourselves in the chosen one, but we’re not her. We’re just ourselves. For whatever that’s worth.

I love BLADE RUNNER 2049, you guys.

P.S. This whole cast is excellent – I don’t completely get why everybody hates Jared Leto so much, but if that’s your thing he’s only in like two scenes, so calm the fuck down – but I didn’t want to sign off without specifically acknowledging how great Dave Bautista and his character are. He does so much with a small role and although I’m glad it doesn’t seem like BLADE RUNNER will become just another sci-fi franchise property product opportunity I can’t lie, I would love to see the small-scale Sapper Morton prequel. It would be a western in the world of BLADE RUNNER, an UNFORGIVEN tale of the ex-military badass living quietly on a remote farm until he has to reluctantly unleash his badassness to help somebody who’s in trouble.

We’ll never get that, but as consolation we have a short film (one of three made to promote the film) where he’s in kind of an action hero situation. It’s not nearly at the movie’s level of production value so it’s a bit on the chintzy side, but it’s cool to see a little more about his character.

Me, ahead of the Bautista curve seven years ago.

Bautista has distinguished himself so thoroughly in the last few years that even I tend to forget that he’s one of ours – a wrestler turned actor who I first noticed in a disreputable DTV action movie. One directed by David “The Demon” DeFalco, no less! Congratulations to Bautista for hitting the big time, deserving it, and using it well.

P.P.S. They really gotta do an alternate cut with lifeless Ryan Gosling voiceover and happy ending, right? I’d give it a shot.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2017 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

149 Responses to “Blade Runner 2049”

  1. Crushinator Jones

    October 12th, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Vern: The unicorn thing just means that Deckard tells Gaff about the unicorn he sees whenever he drinks. The question is more interesting than the answer, and the artist is dead.

    Good review.

  2. I just saw this so I’m still processing it. I’m glad you loved it, Vern, even considering your complicated feelings on the original. I watched it last week in preparation, and it still holds up so well. Speaking of which, I urge anyone who is both fans of the original and completely up on what’s happening today, to read this article. The interpretation given kind of floors me.

    This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017

    I watched Blade Runner for the first time this week. Since I have apparently been living in a cave for the past few decades, I thought that Blade Runner was kind of like Tron but with more Harrison…

    The emotional core shown here hit me pretty hard, like I said I’m still taking it all in so I won’t be too bothered to tell anyone I had some tears of my own on this ironically rainy day in my neck of the woods.

  3. This movie hit me harder than expected. I FUCKING loved it. It was the movie the original tried to be, but was compromised by an underdeveloped script and several asonine afterthoughts of Ridley Scott trying to shoehorn in a definite answer to a question that there never could be answered. The more I think about it, I actually have developed a more furious contempt of Scott´s retconning of BLADERUNNER than I have of George Lucas´Special Editions.

    Here we have a story about what makes us human, being subversive by never giving the “protagonist” any form of individual signifiers, but giving Roy Batty way more complexity and even mocking Deckard at the end of “Aren´t you the good guy”, but in the end saving Deckard and proving that life cannot so easily be categorized and you can´ just objectify what you don´t understand. The great irony is that the created is the more human. Deckard and his human ilk are so detached from life they can´t appreciate it anymore.

    And then Ridley Scott decided that Deckard was a replicant, taking away the entire point of Roy Batty.

    This movie kind of redeem the problematic releases of the first film. First of all, the plot is concrete and not in any way underveveloped. You don´t have to watch it a million times to get the nuances. You get the gist of it at first watch. Even though I have to watch it again for the subtleties.

    Also, if you hated the first BLADE RUNNER, I think you would like this one. Somehow I think so.

    But the best thing about it is that it got me emotional this time. Boy, did it hit me. And I can´t explain it. You REALLY need to get in fresh to watch it. And you DO need to watch it on a big screen.

    I love BLADERUNNER 2049

  4. I love reading enthusiastic reactions to this film. So much of the news media coverage has been negative (Bomb! Didn’t live up to $$$$ expectations!! Doom!!) due to the dominion of the all ‘ighty ‘ollar despite being highly reviewed. (see Martin Scorsese’s recent Hollywood Reporter column about the power of these two forces).

    I didn’t immediately love it, but it’s not that kind of film. I didn’t immediately love any of Michael Mann’s films but liked them more and more on each repeated viewing. Since I was a kid when I saw the original Blade Runner, it had a huge impact on me, shaped my tastes and sensibility, yet I’ve come to look at it differently over the years. It took me a long time to see the replicants as sub-humans trying to be human with human lives (Leon and his photos; Joanna Cassidy being a dancer, etc.) and after each subsequent viewing I’d feel worse for them, especially snake lady, Pris, and Roy, and make some sense of Deckard’s ennui.

    This film has been haunting me since I saw it! Damn, I feel bad for K…the idea of the memory being real sparked something in him, which alerted the authorities, he comes to find out it isn’t him, and he seems to find solace at the end, never able to truly be human.
    I thought the revolution angle was shoe-horned in, but I don’t think I give much of a fuck. Movies like this don’t exist merely for plot.
    And what a fucking soundtrack.
    Glad I saw it on a good, big screen.

  5. Crushinator Jones

    October 12th, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Kill the artist. Ridley Scott’s take on Blade Runner or Deckard doesn’t matter. The movie is done, if you watch it and find it ambiguous, it’s ambiguous. If Tommy Wiseau tells you The Room is a dramatic masterpiece you don’t have to believe him.

  6. And, do I have it right that it was never truly explicit that Deckard is actually a replicant?

  7. “I can imagine them sighing like they’re waking up for the first time in the morning 4-5 times throughout the movie, but only because that’s what the guy in the row behind me did.”

    Finally, the only recommendation that matters to me. I’m gonna be really disappointed if this isn’t the most boring mainstream movie of 2017.

  8. Thus far my standing offer to watch this movie in exchange for my usual freelance rate of $15 an hour has not been accepted, so it’s looking more and more like I’ll mever see this. So somebody do me a favor and tell me what the secret that breaks the fucking world is. Is it that everyone is a replicant? I’m assuming it’s that everyone is a replicant.

  9. And please be polite and SPOILER tag the shit out of it for our compadres who are less curmudgeonly than me.

  10. Why do you even bother commenting on shit you don´t even like? Behave, or we´ll send you you to the off world colonies.

  11. Because I want to know. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna stick around afterward.

  12. I don´t know , Majestyk. . I don´t remember when or where. But last time we discussed BLADE RUNNER ,or at least the trailer of this one, I got so upset I swore I´d never EVER discuss any of this replicant shit on this site again. But then I watched 2049 and got excited again. My heart was warmed by some unknown sun I never heard of. And when Vern gave this glorious review I could not help myself of writing about it.

  13. Fine, I’ll just google it. Jeez. I’m not trying to piss on anybody’s parade. I’ve just heard that “breaks the world” line in the trailer so many times that I got curious.

  14. It’s up there in Vern’s review, Mr. M.

  15. Yeah, I thought that was some other plot twist, not the world-breaking secret. Now that my curiosity is dated I’ll leave you guys in peace. Despite my noted BLADE RUNNER antipathy, I’m glad you’re all happy with the movie.

  16. *sated

  17. World Eater:

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    The them having a baby thing or Deckard’s dog thing?
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    I have not seen this movie yet and so far it looks like I may not see it till it hits home video. But this review and the comments do have me intrigued.

  18. Sorry I got all defensive there, Majestyk.

  19. It’s okay. I’ve been an asshole about BLADE RUNNER before. I don’t blame you for no giving me the benefit of the doubt.

  20. We are all assholes. We are just different ones.

  21. This definitely ended up being way better than it had any right to be, and, amazingly, in the ballpark of the original movie’s slow, vibey dream tone, while still having the kind of action setpieces youre going to need in a movie this expensive.

    I just wish it were… well, a little bit smarter. The coolest sci-fi idea in here is in a sex scene, and the more the mystery unravels the less clear it is why it matters in the slightest (SPOILERS SPOILERS — the movie has a very weird idea that only natural birth can possibly instill a soul, and that everyone takes this fact for granted, and if they found out robots could bone they would never treat them as slaves. History does not, in my opinion, support that interpretation– SPOILERS SPOILERS).

    It gets way more right than I had any real hope of, but I think it’s significant that it seems to incorrectly think that Deckard and his stupid non-mystery plot was the most important thing about BLADE RUNNER 2019, instead of Rutger Hauer and his amazing molologue. That the new movie replicates (ha!) quite a bit of the details of the original, but notably not that bit, speaks volumes about why I can’t get 100% on board here. This is a damn fine movie, but it sure had the ambition and a rare opportunity to end up being a little more than it actually is.

  22. Which is, if I may be a totally pretentious piece of shit, probably doomed to happen when you have to think up a story in order to further a property, rather than come up with a good story and then feel inspired to make a movie. At the end of the day, there just isn’t much reason to tell this story except that there’s possibly nostalgia money in this franchise (and that didn’t even turn out to be true!). You would never come up with Ryan Gosling’s arc, absent the franchise tie-in, and think “This is such a great story filled with mind-bending ideas that it has to be told!”

    So the end result still feels a little hollow to me, a case of great filmmaking in search of a reason to exist.

    But I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely good, and I’m definitely glad I saw it in theaters. It’s just good enough that I wish it were great.

  23. My experience with this and rewatching the original in preparation is similar to the one Vern had a while back – I realized I had always wanted (and if I’m being honest, pretended) to like Blade Runner more than I actually do. There’s some legitimately great stuff in the first one (the art design! the score! the casting!), but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a movie that follows the wrong characters. It’s like if Star Wars was about Biggs going to classes at Empire school or whatever and Luke just showed up at the end to tell him about the force and light sabers and saving a princess. I think BR2049 is a better movie than the original, but I did find it a bit of a slog. A beautiful slog, but a slog nonetheless. Cinematography aside, it just wasn’t an epic enough story to warrant that kind of runtime. It’s awesome that they let Villanueve make more of an art film than a sci fi epic, but just like the first one it ends up being something I admire more than I enjoy.

  24. Great review, I also liked the newest one more, especially as I thought about on it.

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    I’m a bit confused about the redhaired prostitute K gets with and Joi coldly shoos off. Is she a replicant and on the side of the resistance? Or is she a sympathetic human with the resistance? BTW, that whole resistance plot line seemed only tangentially related to the rest of the movie and the least related plot. But maybe someone smarter than me or who has thought more about it’s connections to the rest of the film has a different take?

    I’ve assumed that Deckard is a replicant. Though this movie does keep it ambiguous. And Leto did an interview with RT where after he asked the director how to play the scene, he was told to decide for himself (he doesn’t reveal his choice.) Mostly, I think the narrative to the movie also suggests this because if Deckard is a replicant, then the whole “breaks the world” belief makes more sense and is more compelling imo, vs. “oh, humans can impregnate female replicants. And, because in the FINAL CUT, aside from the unicorm dream, there’s a visual cue displayed in the eyes of everyone who is a replicant, which Dekard briefly displays. I’ll have to watch 2049 again to pick up if there’s similar visual cues in this movie. (Great catch btw Vern with K’s visual reflection. I hadn’t thought of that but it makes perfect sense.
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    At the risk of re-litigating Vern’s take on the original Blade Runner, I’m not sure Roy is that morally sympathetic, outside of his personality. The Tyrell killing is understandable. But the way he kills the eyeball engineer is pretty cold (no pun intended), and then his implied killing of JF Sebastian, which occurs off-screen, seems like a really shitty thing to do, considering how nice JF is to him and genuinely seems to want his friendship–as well as how Roy and JF seem to both recognize and bond over how both have an early expiration date to their lives.

  25. SPOILERS (maybe, I don’t know, just protecting myself)

    I do think the mystery ended up being…interesting, especially to fans of the original, but I don’t get the impact of it. Robin Wright’s character twice said it would break the world – why? That replicants are so dangerous to society if they are sentient, free, emotional is only implied. Well, now that I’m thinking about it, the prospect of their superhuman strength being overtaken by anger (e.g. the evil Wallace henchwoman) is pretty damn frightening (she comes off as a petulant child [no offense to human children], full of emotion but not using it benevolently, yet still cold-blooded at the same time), and the fact that the police are utterly powerless…OK, I like all this, and the fact that it isn’t spelled out through dialogue.

  26. BrianB- You bring up a lot of great points especially regarding why they kill Sebastian and the engineer. I would like to add that it may not have to do much interms of sympathy than in terms of replicants acting like humans. They are being deceitful and highly manipulative in their quest to get what they want. They have learned enough to know how humans work so they can play them, use them. But in the end they show mercy as well. So the replicants are capable of good and evil. Which is fundamentally human

    At least that is my take.

  27. BrianB- You bring up a lot of great points especially regarding why they kill Sebastian and the engineer. I would like to add that it may not have to do much interms of sympathy than in terms of replicants acting like humans. They are being deceitful and highly manipulative in their quest to get what they want. They have learned enough to know how humans work so they can play them, use them. But in the end they show mercy as well. So the replicants are capable of good and evil. Which is fundamentally human

    At least that is my take.

  28. Brian – good points re: Roy Batty. Those are what made me see him as a Big Bad for so many years. Eventually I got quite taken with him when he finds Pris killed, and at the end. That damn movie; no easy black/white, all grays.

  29. Paul Allen's Card

    October 12th, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    My least favorite addition to the Final Cut was the extra line it gives Batty after he kills Tyrell and approaches Sebastian. (“I’m sorry, Sebastian… Come… Come!”). Hearing this makes Batty seem way more cold-blooded. Without that line, it kinda preserves the idea that Batty is, for all his otherworldly experience, basically a four-year-old lacking emotional maturity. But now the murder feels more calm and deliberate than an impromptu outlet for his rage upon discovering that God Himself could not help him.

  30. Crushinator Jones

    October 12th, 2017 at 4:06 pm

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    Mr. Subtlety,

    How in the world do you think that the “movie” thinks that replicants have no souls? If you’re not aware, that was something that people said about black folks, and why they should be slaves. And does K act like he doesn’t have a soul?

  31. I’ll be vague here, but that glitch scene outside the car was one of my favorite moments I’ve seen onscreen this year. Weirdly moving.

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    Crush — All I can say is that the movie seems to put a bizarre emphasis on the importance of biological reproduction. It seems to take for granted that if humans discovered replicants could biologically reproduce themselves, they would be unable to exploit them as slave labor, and that if replicants learned this about themselves, they would rise up and refuse to be exploited. I don’t see any other way to read the story, unless you’re going to try to claim that the thing the story is about is not what it’s really about (maybe the hook is intentionally an arbitrary nothing which is important only to the characters and inexplicable to us, just to show how arbitrary the distinctions in their world are? But if so, there’s not a single thing in the execution of the film which would suggest as much). Obviously I’m aware of the rationales people used to justify slavery, and that’s what makes this claim that a pregnant replicant would “break down the walls” between humans and replicants such an strange and absurd theme.

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  33. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER as well as SPOILER

    I forget how much this was discussed and how much it was me assuming, but I thought the issue was that replicants were produced and carefully monitored to be obedient (the baseline test), so once they could reproduce on their own they would be out of human control, and/or humans would fear they were. They go after Sapper for not having an expiration date, of course they have to fear replicants who can make babies.

  34. Pleasantly surprised by Vern’s reaction to this one. I came out of it thinking “if you don’t care for BLADE RUNNER, you sure aren’t going to like this one.” I saw it in a theatre that was empty except for a small group of teenagers, who giggled all the way through and complained loudly about how boring it was. So they’re not exactly creating a whole new generation of Deckheads, or whatever it is the fans call themselves. I liked it a lot though.

    I’ve never really paid much attention to Ridley Scott’s continual flip-flopping on whether Deckard is a replicant. It’s a dumb idea anyway. Not only does it break the themes of the movie, the text doesn’t really support it, even in the Final Cut. I was curious about how they were going to address it here, and although they keep it ambiguous (Wallace has a vague line about fate that could be interpreted either way), doesn’t it seem like it should be a huge deal in the context of the movie? This big secret that could “break the world”?

    I reckon after hearing how much that wooden horse was worth K should have chopped down that tree on Bautista’s farm and carried it home. He could afford all the holographic sex robots he wanted.

  35. This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in theaters, this baby blew my ass all the way to the back of the theater.

    The original BLADE RUNNER is one of my all time favorite movies and never would I have imagined we’d get a sequel that in some ways is actually better than the original, it’s just incredible.

    And I have to say, as a single guy Joi made me feel things way unexpected and uh, pretty intense and that’s BLADE RUNNER in a nutshell and what makes it so special, it’s not your average dystopia, it’s a grim world but at the same time there’s things about it that are cool and awe-inspiring, you can see how people are able to live their lives in this world, contrast that with something like Orwell’s 1984 where everything is terrible you wonder why everyone doesn’t commit suicide en masse, that makes the world of BLADE RUNNER feel far more believable and grounded.

    And Joi is a perfect example, on one hand the idea of a virtual girlfriend is depressing, on the other hand one that looks like Ana de Armas is awesome and I want one.

    So yeah, great fucking movie and it’s a shame it wasn’t a big hit, I’m not too surprised though as I got the vibe that most of the people in the theater weren’t into it and were just bored, plus there were way less people than I expected and I was there opening night.

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    Replicants fulfill most of the definition of life; they can metabolise, they can grow, they can respond to stimuli and they can adapt to their environment. Once they can reproduce they are, by definition, living beings.

  37. Didn’t quite understand the “Threesome” scene the first time i saw it.

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    Have a question. Does the Replicant Resistance know where the Child is? I got the impression that they did.

  38. Really engrossing movie visually and sonically. I enjoyed it. But this had the most vaporous story of any movie I have seen in a while. Only a week removed from seeing it, I can barely remember why even basic things happened. For example, like why K went to see Deckard in the first place. Pretty basic plot point. I have almost no idea why that happened.

    I think a big part of the problem is that this movie is supposed to be about the emancipation of a bunch of, uh, entities, but there is almost no time given to the real struggle of the beings held in bondage, nor of the human social relations that sustain that exploitation. Certainly in real life the idea that one replicant giving birth to one child would be revolutionary is completely incredible. This movie does not seem interested in making me think differently.

    I really did like the movie a lot, but there was something so frictionless about it that I think kept it from achieving something truly special.

  39. Great points. I agree pretty much, which is also why I see the original as more shades of grey/noir, morally speaking. I’ll float that for the original there’s some interesting Christ imagery for Roy at the end, which could partially explain his shift and mercy showing at the end as well as sermonizing, and I dare say—this is more a reach—does he come to recognize Deckard is a replicant? The ambiguity is richer, but it some ways it feeds into this movie, IMO.

    Subtlety and Vern both have strong points in the comments, and I know how much some people might hate this, either bcs of the assumption or the prior ambiguity, but again I’d argue this furthers the idea of Deckard as a replicant. I’d disageee with the politics of overemphasizing reproductive capacity and natural vs artificial, but to the extent it’s there, and I’d agree I saw it in this movie and the characters beliefs, it plays a huge role in this movies narrative and themes.

    I’ll rewatch it in the next week but I still don’t quite grasp how to think about the resistance plot and scenes either.

  40. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
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    I somehow took offence to the retconning of the Deckard/Rachel pairing as a great, deep romance that caused the guy to ultimately give up his whole life to protect their beloved child. I mean…their first bit of intimacy was effectively brought about via sexual assault and coercion after the girl, still shell-shocked from the revelation that she’s a replicant AND from just having shot a guy in the head, tried to leave Deckard’s apartment. Then, aparently, she got pregnant, but because Tyrell designed her only with the ability to get pregnant and not to actually give birth (?), she died during childbirth. Great life she’s had. And instead of going Itto Ogami with the kid, Deckard split and hid out in the ruins of Vegas instead of doing anything productive. Finally, in 2049, another replicant has to die so he can live. The guy’s an arsehole to the very end ;)

    Also:

    Why the heck would you aim to evolve replicants to reproduce naturally in order to ramp up production (“But I can only make so many!”)? You’d have to wait for, what, fifteen, twenty years until you could use one of those RepKids to actually do some real physical work. The movie seems to show that production of an adult replicant is much quicker than that. It makes no sense at all.

    It’s a solid film. Loved the special effects (except for FAKE-CHEL near the end) Could’ve used more METAL HURLANT and less 2017 in its aesthetic approach, but I guess that’s ok.

  41. SPOILERS
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    I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it. Loved it, mostly.

    So much to take in, digest, chew on – a second (and more) screening is unsurprisingly essential, methinks.

    Above all of the mind-blowingly gorgeous visuals and sounds, what has stayed with me the most is the final few moments (and I hope I’m remembering it correctly).

    K could’ve delivered Deckard/Rachael’s offspring to the rebel replicants, and possibly started a revolution, but instead he, with his last moments, helps to re-unite a desperately lonely, broken man with his equally unhappy, lost child.

    To have the capacity to love, to have compassion, putting others before yourself, these things are what makes us more than the sum of our parts, whether we’re human, replicant or hologrammy thing.

    Amazing.

  42. I’ve avoided the review and thread cause I want to see this. My question is as the first major release actually truly optimized for an IMAX screen after post-conversion (unlike LIEMAX) were the results worth it? I mean on paper I couldn’t think of a better presentation format for a BLADE RUNNER movie.

  43. The “edible millipedes” look to be pachnoda grubs – I actually had a load of them as pets for years. They mature into sun beetles, which are quite beautiful.

    And I loved the movie. I don’t think it’s on par with the first one simply because it leans too much on it to be purely its own thing, but as mentioned, it’s one hell of a sequel.

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    Vern — that’s an interesting point. Without being able to reproduce for themselves, replicants are ultimately reliant on humans for their very existence. Changing that fact would cut the last thing tethering them to humanity, to some degree setting them free to pursue their own fate. That fits very nicely with the “I want more life, fucker!” motivation of Batty et al in BLADE RUNNER 2019 — it’s not about souls, or “being a real boy” (as the movie puts it) which the replicants already take for granted, it’s about having control over their own lives, both individually and as a group.

    I’d totally buy that as a reason all this baby hooplah is so important, except that the movie seems so insistent that the big deal is not about autonomy, but about identity (being a “real boy,” “breaking down walls” between humans and replicants, sacrificing oneself for a cause which is supposedly the “most human thing you can do” [that line is such a fucking groaner]).

    Anyway, my point is that you should really write these things.

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  45. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Replicants being able to reproduce is the world breaking secret. It’s why Wallace kills his newly created replicant. Her womb was empty. It’s why there are Blade Runners to begin with. Replicants are assumed to have no soul. They’re human shaped, but not considered to be human. But, if it can be proven that replicants can biologically reproduce then they must be human. Their exploitation by humans would have to come to an end.

  46. Any thoughts on what’s up with Wallace’s henchwoman Luv? I like how she refers to K as a “good boy” and a “bad dog,” I think to taunt him about his obedience. But does this mean she is free, and not obedient to Wallace? And did I detect a half smile when she died? Was she happy to have failed?

  47. I don´t really remember that. I need to watch it again, because it was nothing I latched unto. Buut it does sounds interesting to ponder about those two descriptions. I also dodn´t notice a smile when she died, but again there are a lot of stuff that needs more viewings to fully apprecia

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    Michaelangelo — I get that the movie makes that point, I just think it makes no sense. People in this country had real, indisputable humans as slaves, and the fact that they could have children didn’t bother them in the slightest. And while we’re on the subject, why in the world would that be the fact that convinced people slavery was wrong? Is there anybody on Earth who would say “Well, these beings are clearly sentient, capable of emotions and moral expressions, creative, empathetic, and able to learn and grow. But, they’re infertile so obviously they have no soul and we can abuse them however we want!” I mean, we don’t enslave old people past childbearing age, or impotent men, do we? So this plot point is just such weird, random logic that I can’t quite get past it. I’d be open to Vern’s theory that childbearing has nothing to do with the soul, but everything about the population being able to grow on its own… except that the movie keeps insisting it IS about a soul, and I just think that’s asinine.

    Vern — she also stresses that she’s “the best!” when she thinks she’s beaten him. My feeling is that she’s a “dog” too, but that she’s the top dog. Like Stephen in DJANGO UNCHAINED, she gets her self-worth not from being free, but for being the top slave, utterly contemptuous of anyone she views as beneath her, or who she fears will rock the boat. Interesting to note that she has no problem murdering humans, including a police commander, who she thinks are interfering with Wallace’s plans. There is a fanaticism to her which seems almost religious, and is obviously meant to be reflective of Wallace’s godlike status. I didn’t notice any smile when she died, though.

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  49. Spoilery questions

    I’m 99% positive the prostitute is a replicant. Joi calls her real because she has a physical body, but the whole first convo where she asks K if he is going to shoot her and the other prostitute warns her to get away pretty much implies that.

    But is Robin Wright’s character a replicant? I felt like that was revealed in her death scene but felt like it went over my head.

    100% the dog was a replicant. But what was the deal with the bees? That went WAY over my head.

    And has any character in the history of movies taken more of a beating than Ryan Gosling in this movie? I was trying to think of one and short of a terminator I couldn’t.

    The porn version of this will be called Boob Runner 2069, right?

  50. I loved this movie. It had everything I enjoyed about the first film, but with a stronger narrative and better story. Great review Vern, I need to catch up on the comments but there is a lot to unpack and look forward to discussing. I think the film has a lot to say about slavery and gender politics. For example Luv is a house slave. (SPOLIERS) in the climax when Luv thinks she has defeated Joe she says, Somthing like “I am better than you”. This little character moment is an insight into her self loathing and insecurities projected on her by a society that has branded her and other replicants as less than or inferior, and she desires to been seen as better than other replicants even if it means reinforcing or supporting a system that expoilts replicants like her. She reminded me of Sam Jackson’s Stephen character from DJANGO UNCHAINED.

  51. Jeffg, (SPOILERS) and more (SPOILERS)……………………………………………………………………………

    I don’t think the point is weather RW’s charter is a replicants or not. However, the dynamics of the politics between the replicant prostitutue and JOI are interesting. In some ways I feel like the JOI character is the most interesting and tragic character in the film because of how other characters interact with her. The replicant hooker obviously looks down on JOI, replicants are seen as less than human, but an AI like JOI is seen as something even less than replicants. She is the slave of slave. Someone for the victimized to victimize.

  52. SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS,

    Lots of great stuff in the comments.

    I agree with Michelangelo’s read of the secret that could break the world. It is also a miracle, one that would not only change the ways people viewed replicants but shake up the way people viewed the world. Similar to the way our lives would change forever if aliens landed. It would fundamentally alter they way we view the world and would spark wide spread fear and panic.

    Mr. Subtly, I think it speaks to the power of the film and its examination of identity/gender/racial politics and oppression that we both saw Stephen in Luv. I also think that Luv could be viewed as a sort of lucifer type figure. She is gods chosen, Wallace’s special angel and she hungers for gods approval and resents the lesser than replicants she is tasked with managing and watching over. She is evil and an embodyment of the worst parts of human nature.

  53. I’ve seen SPOILERS you wouldn’t believe…

    I think you guys are overthinking the “break the world” statement. I think it just means that once it becomes known that replicants can have kids then it won’t be possible / acceptable to treat replicants as second-class citizens anymore.

  54. SPOILERS

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    It never felt to me like Wright was a replicant, but hey.

    Luv was interesting – all her human traits seemed to be the worst ones. But she was self-aware enough to hate herself, ultimately.

    I guess, because she had no physical presence, Joi was the lowest of the low.

    Yeah, it’s all a class thing.

  55. So one of the things I noticed watching this film is the role of the female characters, and their relationship to male characters. Many of the female characters in this film only exist to serve the whims and desires of men. JOI exists to serve Joe, Luv is Wallace’s minion, The replicant prostitutue is there to indulge the desires of men, and even Robin Wright’s police chief is portrayed as a lonely career woman who is married to her job and sense of purpose. In another filmmakers hands the limited portrayal of women would be a problematic red flag, but Villeneuve made SICARIO, ARRIVAL, and ENEMY. These are films that have strong female leads and/or challenge gender roles, so I feel like his choice to marginalize women in BLADE RUNNER 2049 is intentional. I would need more viewings and time to digest it all to try and better understand what DV is getting at but there is something there.

  56. Charles – Because the movie is about a predatory social order, I came to the same conclusion. The powers in the film view women as disposable or else as playthings.

    On that topic, a great Villeneuve movie that doesn’t get much attention is POLYTECHNIQUE about the Montreal Massacre of December 1989, where a male gunman targeted female engineering students because he deemed them feminists. It’s visually one of the most starkly beautiful modern black-and-white movies, and hits harder than Gus Van Sant’s ELEPHANT.

  57. Isn’t the Leader of the Replicant Resistance a woman?

  58. Yes, but she’s a replicant woman, which is why she has her eye removed, as she states in the movie. (This is what makes me wonder about the prostitute, who everyone else is saying is a replicant, but I’d like to hear some evidence. It seems like anybody who potentially is a replicant hides away bcause of easy detection these days–not fully explained–but assumed.) Joi is jealous? But what’s that supposed to mean? We could just as easily assume it’s because she’s a human, and later we might just as easily assume it’s part of her programming given how the the large Joi simulator totally challenges any notion that she had gone beyond her program in her devotion….how about naming K “Joe” anyone? A harrowing a brilliant scene before the ending, since it casts into doubt what many might have assumed beforehand.

    Additionally, the prostitute is remarkedly forward in a world where apparently “skin jobs” are easily spotted, and it seems a bit beyond a bluff for her to nonchalantly accept K’s challenge and then have him not follow up.

    I’ll rewatch again, but I don’t really see Robin Wright as a replicant either. I’m sure that’s a thought that’s invited, given this movies thees, because it’s about human vs. nonhuman, but the only possible thing that occurs to me for why she’d be a replicant vs. not is that she may not know the difference between real vs. implanted memories, whereas another female character apparently does, and K discusses this subject with each, although in a different setting.

    @Charles – Because it’s all about control, autonomy, and continuation, and in this universe that’s bound up with reproduction, at least in terms of the characters, and that’s what helps them imbue greater meaning. Some of the male characters fear or want to dominate, or run away from, the females because of these things they represent, even though they are obsessed and also afraid of them, whether it’s memories, babies, knowledge of location, etc. Essentially, the main plot of this movie and breaking the world revolves around women because they’re essential to reproduction and birth.

    SPOILER
    I’m going to reconsider Luv when I see the movie tomorrow. Because she struck me as one of the more engimatic characters on first viewing. Very compelling. But it is a bit….”did she smile there?” / was there a greater plan? vs. was she a plot device with all the strange non-finishing elements with her and K. (not killing him in Vegas, and then not finishing the job later on after an ambush.) SPPOILER

  59. Advanced Lucifer Radio

    October 15th, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Has anyone listened to the Ridley Scott interview on the Empire podcast? He says that this film “only makes sense if Deckard is a replicant”. If I remember rightly he even repeats it for emphasis. I’ll be honest and say that his point was initially lost on me but reading around a bit the consensus seems to be that if any old human could have made Rachael pregnant then Jared Leto’s character wouldn’t have needed to find Deckard. It only makes sense that Deckard is integral to the mystery if he was designed as one of a pair of replicants that were able to breed.

    Honestly, it sounds like a “if I say this now it proves what I meant back then” retcon to me. And one that Villeneuve was less than happy to push as text. I loved the film though.

    A replicant? Not my Deckard.

  60. I know you’re not making the argument yourself, just repeating what you read, but it’s not true that the only reason Wallace (Leto’s character) would want Deckard is if he was a replicant. The actual reason Wallace gives in the movie is that he’s trying to track down Deckard’s kid and thinks Deckard might know where he or she is, and if he doesn’t know, then he might know something else that would get them closer. That makes sense right there. Deckard’s integral to the mystery because he helped hide the kid, whether he is a replicant himself or not.

    Either way, I agree with Vern that Villenueve did the right thing by leaving it unresolved.

  61. Advanced Lucifer Radio

    October 15th, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Yeah, sorry, you’re right. Still, it leaves Ridley Scott’s remarks a little baffling unless he’s referring to things that Villeneuve left out or purposely under-emphasised to soften the point. I’ve not read as widely on the film as I might have usually (it’s been a busy week) but I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument either way.

    Personally, I never really went into the film hoping that it would give us a answer to whether or not he was a replicant because it was never a question that intrigued me. It was only a day or two later that I saw a few “New Fan Theory Says That Jared Leto’s Character is a Replicant” type headlines and wondered what the Deckard-is-a-replicant crew thought of the new one. Still unconvinced by his status and still unconvinced it makes a difference.

  62. BrianB, your right it is never explicitly said that the prostitutue is a replicant so she could be human, but watching the film I never viewed her that way. I also don’t think that replicants are hiding they are everywhere, it’s the older or “malfunctioning” noncompliant replicants that are hunted. (SPOILERS) I think the scene where the prostitutues first meet Joe and react in fear when they realize he is a blade runner is ment to let the audience know that they are replicants. A flesh and blood person wouldn’t be so afraid of a blade runner. It is also implied that she is a member of the replicant underground.

  63. BrianB, I do think you touched on something about the representation of women and birth in the film. (VERY MILD SPOILERS) BR 2049 is a motherless film. Considering Joe says “you have to be born to have a soul” the role motherhood plays in the themes of the film are central to what it is exploring. With that being said the idea of birth would be even more powerful is everyone in the film is a replicant. I am not saying that is the case, but I am curious how the film reads through that lense.

  64. So, Harrison Ford’s return to three of his iconic characters is linked by all of them turning out to be absent/shitty fathers?

  65. It looks as though my epic contribution to this discussion is in moderation limbo ;_;

  66. (spoilers spoilers spoilers)

    The main thing that didn’t make much sense to me is the whole deal with the fake trail leading K to think he was Ford’s child. I guess what the movie is pointing to is that he was a decoy, and if I want to further do the script’s job for them, I could imagine there were several other such decoys planted to lead future blade runners astray.
    However, it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny; it provides a great plot thread, but it’d be a pretty stupid ploy that would probably backfire (and does end up leading K to the real daughter anyway)
    Am I missing anything?

    A friend interpreted it in a really interesting way – he thought every replicant had the memory of the wooden toy… which would make this whole thing a proper Umberto Eco-style twist as K goes into the mystery based on incorrect assumptions. I really like that idea, but ultimately it doesn’t account for the fake brother being listed in the archives and the trail to the orphanage (where the toy horse is).

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    Dreadguacamole — I wondered about that too, but I think the answer is that there is no “fake trail,” it’s pure chance. Memory Girl uses some of her own memories in creating false memories for some replicants (probably partially for ease, and partially for sentimental reasons), and it’s just bad luck that K has the one memory with the date, and then happens to find the same date in the course of investigating this case. He wasn’t supposed to find any of this, it’s just coincidence. I don’t think ALL replicants have the toy memory, but I bet more than one of them does, it’s just that this one was the only one who happened to see the same date carved at Dave Bautista’s farm. It wasn’t at all meant for him, and, in fact, it very possibly fucks up the whole plan of keeping her identity secret. But at least that robot-raping asshole Deckard gets to meet his daughter, so… yay?

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  68. Dreadguacamole, (SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS) they way I understood it was there was no grand plan. I don’t think Deckerd’s daughter knows who she is. She created that memory to share an experience she had as a child, and when Joe’s investigation leads him to the location of the original dream he questions if it is a fake memory or a real one he experinced as a child. Deckerd’s daughter was at that orphanage and they listed the fake brother on the records to make it harder for anyone looking to determine if they should be searching for a male or female child. The fake memory that is based on a real one along with the clues leads Joe and the audience to believe he is Deckard’s child and that awakens him and give him purpose. It is a chance for Pinocchio to be a real boy, and be something more than a regular old replicant. However, that was never his purpose. He is not the chosen one, but he does become more than just a machine when he defies his programming and reunites Deckard with his daughter. He is able to figure out who she is once he is not blinded by his desire to be Deckard’s son, and he realizes that the creator of the memory is Deckard’s child. This is why she respond so emotionally to seeing the memory and confirmed it was real so quickly, when Joe first shows it to her. Joe just couldn’t see it at the time.

  69. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Thanks folks – I like that explanation a lot though it uses two dirty tricks:
    a) showing her as a young boy in the memory and
    b) the fake brother record

    The first is… well, I guess it’s a cinematic cheat that can kind of be justified (that’s the way K imagines he would have looked as a boy, or that persona might even be part of memory creator’s established attention to detail; when we see that memory, it’s within the context that he’s narrating it). Still feels a tiny bit cheap, but that might just be me being butt-hurt that I didn’t think of it. The second one I have a bit more of a problem with, since it’s just too damn convenient.

    I’ll take it though, since neither issue is really that big of a hurdle. This actually makes me like the movie a little bit better, and I liked it a lot to start with.

  70. One of the abilities we don’t have is to see ourself from a distance. If Joe don’t have a memory of himself being naked he can’t possibly know if he was a girl or a boy as a child.

  71. Being one of the very few who loves the first BLADE RUNNER, and have had to defend it fiercly on occasions (don’t og looking for some old quotes now, Mr Majestyk), I take it that the new one has gone down better among the good people here (I’ve been on a little vacation in London and can’t be bothered to read all the entries before all the alcohol has left my body)?

  72. @pegsman – Right. The dream would have been in first person. The dirty trick is that the camera, which we tend to trust by default as the omniscient narrator, clearly shows a boy who (IIRC) even kinda looks like Ryan Gosling.

    And I kind of love the original, warts and all (and thought most people did!). I don’t think this one will be remembered or brought up as often as the first film – for better or worse it very much defines itself as a sequel – but it’s much better than I personally could have hoped for.

  73. Dreadguacamole: I’m pretty sure it did the Dark Knight Rises trick where it’s just hard to tell at that age whether a kid with short hair is a boy or a girl. I don’t believe the camera lied in the way you’re suggesting. After the resistance leader reveals that Rachael had a girl, there’s a flashback to the orphanage memory, with a close-up of the kid’s face, then a cut to a close-up of the adult daughter’s face. The implication being, it’s the same face, just grown up.

  74. Re: the prostitute played by Mackenzie Davis being a replicant or not, I’m almost positive the answer is yes, she is. In her first scene with K, after being warned he’s a Blade Runner, she says “You’re not going to kill me, are you?” He responds: “Depends. What’s your model number?” Plus, she works for the replicant resistance.

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    Dreadguacamole — Can’t fault you there, it is horseshit of the highest order that K has a memory of himself as a young girl and doesn’t think it’s weird. Although possibly she tweaked the memory just a little bit so it would work for a male too, which seems like something she could fairly easily do (presumably, he has the same face in all his memories, so they’re all probably tailored to him even if other people also share them). It’s also weird that she would give anyone the horrible memory of being beaten up in a dystopian-Dickensian orphanage, considering she literally says she thinks its her job to try and give replicants false happy memories. Seems just fuckin sadistic to intentionally implant someone else with your worst memory, for sentimental reasons. I mean, what the fuck.

    And yes, the fact that there is both a boy and a girl, while it sort of makes sense as a strategy to hide her, is also a deux ex machina of the most shameless order. It’s there because it has to be there for the plot to make sense, and I have a hard time ignoring such lazy writing.

    Still, I think it does technically make sense, and I must admit Im sort of charmed by the sheer meaningless randomness of K’s whole journey.

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  76. I don’t think K’s journey is pointless at all. First it gives him a purpose – something most people need in their lives – and then it let’s him do some good. And who doesn’t get a warm feeling inside by that?

  77. Even though I saw it coming (though I was going with the decoy theory back then), the bit where the resistance leader sets him straight got me pretty hard. Further to Pegs’ point, most of us believe we’re the one at some point, and get disappointed. Being able to recover and still make a dent after that… I think it’s pretty inspiring.

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    After thinking about it few a days I’m still pretty conflicted about the Joi subplot. When he sees the giant holographic advertisement touting that she “tells you what you want to hear”, I interpreted it as saying that the fact that their relationship was “real to him” (just like his “chosen one” memories) is enough. Except it really isn’t. She’s a computer program specifically designed to make him feel good with no wants or desires of her own. That’s not a relationship, it’s pornography as a substitute for human connection. In HER the AI grew out of their one-sided relationship by developing her own wants and needs over time, but here Joi is obsessed with K from her first moment to her last. And we’re expected to be invested in their relationship and be appalled when Luv calls her a “product” and kills her. I like what people have said here about the world of BR2049 having this hierarchy of simulacrums (from holographic simulations to replicants) and using it to explore where humanity begins and ends. Obviously the director of SICARIO and ARRIVAL has no issue with female characters, but I’m still trying to work through what Villeneuve is trying to say.

  79. Crustaceanlove, I think you are on to something. I think the romance between Joe & Joi is subversive. It is artificial literally and metaphorically. (SPOILERS) I think just like DV subverted expectations by leading the audience to believe that Joe was the chosen one fitting an archetype we have seen in so many other films before revealing he wasn’t I think he is playing with the idea of cinematic romance. Joi is a tragic character, her and joe’s relationship is played as romantic but it is sad and not real love because JOI is nothing more than a program designed for the user to project their desires on. She is not capable of real love and I would argue Joe was never really in love with her as well as much as he wanted to be in love with her because that would make him more human, but he was never really in love with her. I am not sure if Joe is truly capable of being in love either. The romance was a sad fraud.

  80. SPOILERS of course

    I really think Joi is the heart of the film and that every comparison between her and HER favors Blade Runner as the more elegant work.

    Joi and K’s journeys run in parallel; as he is moved further off baseline by the whiplash revelations to which he’s subjected, so to does she seek a less tenuous humanity/mortality for herself. The surrogate scene is on point with this: he doesn’t like “real girls” but he forces himself to go along with it for her sake. Then, he honors her wish to become mortal against his better judgment, because suddenly the stakes are high for him as well in this whole “are we human” business. It’s fucking powerful stuff. As she’s about to be destroyed, it’s extremely important for him to know that she loves him.

    When he sees the cotton candy hologram on the bridge, it’s a devolution of her beyond the saccharine incarnation we see of her in the her introductory scene, it’s so utterly impersonal and male-fantasy-catering that the comparison between that and the Joi who he lost is just complete bullshit. And he gets this, and he realizes it doesn’t matter if he was the chosen one or not, if his memories or real or not, because if Joi can attain a soul than so can he.

    The bitter/dark/tragic version of the bridge scene occurs when Deckard turns his back on a woman for having brown eyes and she’s killed without a second thought. But you see her before she dies, she’s fucking devastated by his rejection of her.

    Just because you’ve gained the ability to make humans doesn’t make your creations any less human if you’ve imbued them with humanity.

  81. Let me say that Bautista’s performance in this is just heartbreaking and even though we already knew he was good, this is another evolution right?

    MORE SPOILERS

    Bautista says that he’s a blade runner because he hasn’t seen a miracle. Joi was the miracle that woke him up and the scene with the pink hologram Joi is the moment that makes him realize this and it’s why he chooses in that moment to not give up.

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    renfield: Can you pinpoint anything in the film that would indicate Joi attaining a soul, or even a personality? Because I can’t think of her displaying anything beyond a desire to please K. Even her desperate “I love you” before she dies is exactly the kind of thing an artificial girlfriend would be programmed to say in that situation. I really like your interpretation, I just think it would work better if they’d given Joi something to do other than pine after K and then sacrifice herself, as per the Hollywood Love Interest handbook.

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    Mr. S: Ultimately I don’t think there’s any way to *prove* that Joi wasn’t a really fucking good AI … to me it’s similar to the idea that you can never proving genuine altruism vs desire for recognition for altruistic deeds.

    But as far as specific cinematic elements go, that’s how the character came across to me as portrayed by the director via Ana de Armas. In her introductory scene, she’s just trying to anticipate his desires and try on different outfits that might appeal. Then he gives her the birthday present and lets her experience rain. Her demeanor changes, she seems genuinely mesmerized by this more fully realized human-abstraction that she’s allowed. She switches from “I can make the client happy via these algorithms” to “oh shit i’m having an experience! I can have those!”

    She transitions from housemaid to co-conspirator, merging with his body and looking at evidence with him. (I fantasize that this is against her programming insofar as it’s pretty immersion-breaking and a lot of her graphical tech seems to be geared around interpreting physical boundaries and attempting to mimic them rather than ignore them).

    I really felt like they tried to juxtapose an evolved Joi with a factory-settings Joi that he encounters later, and that K grasped the chasm between them.

  84. It appears your name is Crustacean Love and you’ve just taken to using Mr. Subtleties spoiler tags, as have I!

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    Vern, I actually thought right away that the skeleton was Rachel’s. When I’d learned that the opening scene was based on the original, but unused version of how the movie was to originally open, I’d opened my mind up to the possibility that the sequel was going to use more ideas that were chucked away from the first. One of the original endings is that either Deckard kills her, or she commits suicide. Between that and knowing Sean Young wasn’t cast (and that Robin Wright wasn’t playing her character, which some people online assumed immediately at the news), my guess was that the character wouldn’t have made it.

  86. Hey, I used those spoiler tags first!

    You’re right in that I’m probably not giving enough credit to Ana de Armas’ performance and how it changes during the film. She’s not the same person at the beginning and at the end. But if she’d displayed a moment of self-interest, wholly separate from K or his goals (even the rooftop rain sequence is a tropey fantasy), I’d be more inclined to accept that she’d evolved beyond her own programming, and that their relationship was more than a sad delusion.

  87. I think a large part of the movie holds up a mirror to society’s feelings towards artificial intelligence. More and more people seem to prefer online relationships over physical ones. We like sweet and innocent Joi because she’s someone we could fall in love with. She’s only mimicking K, but we project intelligence on her because we like her. And like many a-sexual people feel, when Joi and K try to take it to another level, involving Luv, it all becomes wrong in some way.

    The other Blade Runners hate K, maybe because he’s a man, I wonder how they feel about female Blade Runners?
    Even the cold and rational Joshi makes a pass at K. Most likely because he’s a handsome man.

    Deckard doesn’t dismiss the new Rachel because he prefers green eyes, he just wants “his” Rachel back. His feelings towards his artificial loved one went beyond just sexual in the first movie – he fell in love with her.

  88. About Lt. Joshi’s advance on K, IIRC doesn’t that conversation starts with her saying she’s done a lot of replicants? I think it just shows how she objectifies replicants, which conflicts to a point with the maternal bond/camaraderie she’s developed with K specifically.

  89. Oddly enough that scene between Joshi and K in his apartment reminds me of the “Love The One You’re With” scene in PROMETHEUS.

    It’s probably been discussed here already so apologies if I’m digging up an old talking point, but I wonder if Joshi isn’t just an older version of the Luv character. The slave mentality brought up here makes me wonder if there are far more Replicants than meets the eye. To the point where maybe the LAPD is full of them, utilizing an entire police force as slave labor. And that one of their programs is to insult each other (I’m thinking of the voice we hear saying “fucking skin job” as K walks by).

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    Although it seems obvious, I don’t recall that the fact they’re slaves is stated anywhere specifically. Unless every Wallace replicant working for the LAPD comes with a complimentary shitty apartment, clothes, food and a simulated live-in girlfriend plus gizmos (Emanator?), K must be getting some kind of wage to pay for that stuff. Luv calls him a customer. Maybe they’re getting an allowance while still being forced to do the work?

    But then, strength excepted. what would the advantages of them actually be, compared to a run-of-the-mill human? A small, well-armed normy unit could easily have offed Bautista. Hell, they could’ve iced him from a distance, no need to get close enough for him to do anything. The DRONE alone could do it – scan if he’s a replicant, retire him from the air. No need for K. (That they still seem to be unable to tell who’s a replicant unless they check their eyes is, thirty years after the original, frankly ridiculous.)

  91. (Hey guys over here I got SPOILERS for you) I have a hard time believing that DV was telling a story where Joi falls in love with Joe and becomes something more through her love for him. That would be like telling the story of an African slave in the time of slavery in America finding freedom by falling in love with her slave master. That is just fucking sick & wrong, and I can’t see that being the point of the narrative.

  92. SPOILERS

    Pegs, I was just referencing the brown eyes as a shorthand to identify the scene, but I can see how the way I worded it implies that the eye color was the dealbreaker for Deckard. Of course, it’s just a signifier that represents the fact that she’s not his Rachel.

    Even though Joi and Rachel 2 are artificial, once you imbue an artifact with humanity it becomes monstrous to callously destroy it. I feel like this is what the film argues. Stelline seems torn by whether or work is just making replicants better at seeming human vs actually giving them a soul. From a replicant’s perspective, what’s the difference? I love Deckard’s response when K ask if the dog is real: “Why don’t you ask him.”

  93. Crepe, the fact that replicants are slaves is part of the BR world going back to the first film. The job of a blade runner is to retire replicants that are malfunction and no longer following their programming. They are built for service, war, sex, and labor, they are assigned an occupation and retired when they can no longer fulfill that occupation. The text at the beginning of BR 2049 says the stopped building replicants after the events of the first film because they became to rebellious, but that Wallace had profected the design and made them more subservient so that they stopped rebelling. The word slavery is never used but how is that not slavery.

  94. Charles (I’m assuming you’re talking to me, here) –

    I know how that world is supposed to work. If you go back and read what I wrote, you’ll see that I stated that yes, it seems obvious, but that there are fundamental questions raised by the K’s living arrangements and life.

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    Man, some of you all really took this movie as much more optimistic about love and humanity than I did. It hadn’t even occurred to me there was another way to read the scene where K meets the gigantic Joi on the bridge as anything but a confirmation of what the prostitute replicant had already said: she’s just a program meant to tell him what he wants to hear. She’s programmed to call everyone “Joe,” there was nothing special or in any way un-predetermined about their relationship. In fact, the only question is, is K any different?

    Cursty — also, sorry to steal your spoiler flavor! I just thought it was cool, was not trying to SINGLE WHITE FEMALE you I swear.

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  96. Yeah sorry Cepe, pardon my typo.

    You can still be a slave and receive income. Oppression and slavery come in many forms.

  97. Mr. S, (SPOILERS, SPOLERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS) I think that in the end Joe defies his programming making a choice and in turn it makes him more human. Early in the film Joe believes that to have a soul you have to be born, but when he meets the head of the replicant resistance and finds out he is not Deckard’s son she tells him something about how life is defined by how you live and how you die. Joe thought being born would make him more human, but it is the choices he makes that make him more human.

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    Mr S: Yeah, I’m inclined to agree with you about Joi. I think in his interaction with the advertisement (specifically when she calls him a “good Joe”) he realises that his relationship (like his memories) wasn’t real and that he’s going to have to define himself through action. No probs about you chomping my flavour. My flavour is there to be chomped.

  99. The lore of spoiler tag origins is apparently beyond my grasp.

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    Let me ask you all this, then — do you really buy the movie is sincere with its corny “giving your life for a cause is the most human thing you can do” claim, and do you consequently think the movie is about “creating” a soul, rather than being born with one?

    Frankly I find both claims to be highly dubious, and in no small part because the only “humans” we ever see acting selflessly are replicants, and pretty much every damn “natural” human in the whole series is a fucking piece of shit (Deckard included, which makes the whole idea of K sacrificing his life for him even weirder). But the replicants should want to be more like them? That’s an especially crazy idea coming from someone who’s about to start an anti-human revolution.

    And the idea that K gains a soul through his actions seems to undermine the idea that replicants are inherently sentient! It suggests that only K, who has somehow gone “against” his programming to perform this selfless act (whatever that even means) deserves to be treated as if he has a soul, and that it’s potentially no problem to have replicant slaves who haven’t gone on an altruistic journey of self-discovery.

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  101. SPOILERS SERIOUSLY IF YOU HAVENT SEEN BLADE RUNNER WHY ARE YOU EVEN ON OUTLAW VERN

    Well, of course as you have experiences they will influence your individuality, but to me they all obviously are human beings right out the gate, which is what makes Wallace’s habit of murdering newborn replicants so disturbing. They certainly REACT as if they are real people experiencing something terrible that they don’t fully understand. But I suppose you can always argue that they’re *just designed to seem human* and all their (and Joi’s) displays of emotion prove is Wallace’s engineering ability.

    I guess I implied replicants don’t have souls without experiences / memory implants but thinking about it more closely I don’t believe this is the case. Can we say they have souls, but not context? And there’s a certain existential horror of knowing that you are a being with not only no lineage and ancestry, but no personal history and childhood. You have memories but also the self awareness that they’re bullshit.

    K learns that maybe not only are his memories real, but he uniquely among his entire kind actual comes from a family line. It’s not that he wasn’t a person before this, it just didn’t occur to him that he had the right to care on some fundamental brainwashed level. When he then learns that it’s not true, he’s not special, he has already kinda experienced firsthand that he seems to have the same urge to be his own person as other real people.

    So seeing the not-special giant hologram version of Joi calls him special as a meaningless platitude, but he knows that both he and Joi have experienced individuality so he’s like “naw, I’m gonna go get involved.” Or perhaps he knows how fucking horrible it is to be made special and then unmade, and so he’s horrified that it also happened to his girlfriend. Or maybe he realizes that the relationship was fraudulent but I don’t see how that motivates him to do what he does (“fuck you for tricking me”?).

    To me, it makes sense for K to want to thwart Wallace’s plans because, given his experience, the idea of Wallace creating an infinite army of empty people who yearn for experience and context and meaning and are systematically denied it is horrible and a personal fuck you to what he and Joi went through. If you program an AI or a replica to have human feelings, it’s inhumane to condemn them to incomplete lives.

    /SPOILERS ALTHOUGH I BET THERE ARE MORE IN THE NEXT COMMENT

  102. DARTH VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER KEVIN SPACEY IS KEYSER SOZE BRUCE WILLIS WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME

    The way I see it the relationship with Joi is part of the subversion of the heros journey. Throughout the film she’s telling him that he’s special, that he’s not like the others. Then he sees the advertisement and realises that she was just telling him what he wants to hear, just like his memories. That’s why she very specifically calls him “Joe”, like she did earlier in the film, reinforcing that Joi was just another copy of a computer program. If I remember correctly this is followed by K quite literally tearing off the bandaid, realising that everything he’s been clinging to is false and that he’s going to have to create meaning in his life himself.

  103. A not so subtle message to those out there who lives in front of their computers.

  104. Pegsman, are you suggesting we’re (by hanging out on Outlawvern) each other’s Joi’s? Or that people engage with AIs that they delude themselves into believing are real? I’m not sure I see the analogy.

    I guess maybe Joi is equivalent to getting Likes on Facebook or something, but that’s kind of the opposite phenomenon: real humans abstracted into 1s and 0s.

  105. renfield, we are humans – or at least we think so – and we make decisions based on experience then and there. But we also know that plenty of our fellow human beings are hooked on online games that are programmed to act in certain ways.

    The best evidence that BLADE RUNNER 2049 is a masterpiece of art must be the fact that we can see a thousand different in it!

  106. After a second viewing on the big screen (with a huge, unappreciative crowd. They didn’t deserve this film.)

    I am now mildly obsessed with the characters of Luv and Joi (not to be confused with Lovejoy, the popular BBC show from the 80s).

    I noticed a few things this time around that I missed before – Joi’s tears when she watches Wallace stab the freshly made replicant and later when she kills someone. Also, she clearly digs K when she meets him and this seems to fuel her spiteful destruction of Joi in Deckard’s home later. She’s a fascinating mess of self-loathing and ambition.

    I agree that Joi is, in the end, “just” a program – her naming K “Joe” is, ultimately sad, but then there are moments, like with the callgirl, which maybe, just maybe, suggest something a little deeper.

    The Wallace/Deckard scene – brilliant mindfuckery, but Deckard sees through it.

    Also, stop storing everything on clouds. I knew that shit was gonna end badly.

  107. I have neither seen the movie or read much about it, but…there is a sex hologram named Joi in it? If this movie would’ve been a hit, it could’ve done for the term “joi” the same that AMERICAN PIE did for “milf”.

  108. More like a Stepford Wife that runs on wi-fi

  109. But does she give Ryan Gosling any jerk off instructions?

  110. I asked before but I’ll ask again now that the thread died down a bit.

    How was the IMAX transfer?

    The answer to that question determines whether I finally go see this at the flicks or not. So thanks in advance.

  111. IMAX is this strange concept everyone talks about that I never get to experience. We have ONE IMAX theatre in the entire region of Scandinavia. I still don´t know what the deal is or what it is that makes it so special. But I saw BLADERUNNER 2049 in a non-IMAX poor mans theatre . The kind that is tailored for us poor unfortunates and was blown away by it.

  112. There was one in Oslo a few years ago. It’s closed now, but they’re building a new one with 14 screens. Guess we’ll get a lot of visitors from Sweden.

  113. I misremembered. Actually there are TWO Imax theatres in Sweden.

  114. Shoot it’s about the most immersive movie format this side of well done 3D. Out here in NYC we have one actual IMAX screen (80 x 100 ft).

    When actual film directors started messing with IMAX cameras for regular features (ie: Nolan with his last 2 Batmans and The King with AVATAR) it was one of the best things that ever happened to blockbuster movie going in my opinion.

    Till this day 2 of the greatest experiences I’ve had this century at the movies was Batman gliding through the Hong Kong skyline (which really felt like you were floating up there with him) and the majority of AVATAR in it’s native IMAX 3D.

    A lot of theaters carry “IMAX” screens which are really called LIEMAX by movie goers because they’e not really legit. It’s another scam used to trick people into spending more money without actually delivering on the promise of a true IMAX experience.

    So when I heard that WB made a deal with IMAX wherein even films not natively shot in the format will be rejiggered to fit actual IMAX screen optimization from now I let out a Keanu Reeves “whoa!”. I’m very curious to how that looks like and how much it actually delivered on the promise. It was starting with this movie and will continue indefinitely with JUSTICE LEAGUE and other WB releases.

    Being that the one true IMAX room here in NYC is indeed showing BLADE RUNNER 2049: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE CIRCA 2017 I might just end up biting the bullet and catching it sometime by Halloween weekend. I just wanted to make sure it’s actually worth the extra pesos.

    For what it’s worth I saw TRON: LEGACY on that screen but in LIEMAX 3D since it was a post conversion in the old style and it was pretty great. So I’m sure in 7 years with better optomization skills and no how that shit is probably bananas.

  115. I am a fan of IMAX. But not 3D, Those two should never mix.

    Here in Singapore we have 4 IMAX Theaters, but they rarely show non-3D films.

  116. Saw it at a true IMAX down here in Georgia and was blown away. Was super curious about the formatting after the fact and this gif answered my question. Kinda hope they’ll release the 1.90:1 IMAX version on the blu-ray as well. Also got super lucky to be the only two in the theater so we were able to find the exact sweet spot to sit. I had to twist my friends arm to drive out for it and he profusely thanked me afterwards. Tried to go again but it just got bumped out of that IMAX for the shit-splatter that is GEOSTORM. See it IMAX while you still can.

  117. Gif no worky in these here comments.

    Blade Runner 2049 Will Be Specially Formatted for IMAX

    When you see Blade Runner 2049 in IMAX this October, you’ll experience more of the action than in any other format. 

  118. Thanks for the info Cheston. Much appreciated. Gonna try to see it as soon as possible then since that fucking Roland Emmerich\Dean Devlin collective just won’t go away already.

  119. Pegs – Thanks for elaborating; I agree, online experiences really can reprogram your thought patterns if you lose yourself in them. I can see Joi as a part of that narrative. Probably some of my bias against that comes from my belief that artificial intelligence truly does not have the ability to replicate genuine consciousness, and so the synthetic people in Blade Runner or Alien are kind of magical entities to me.

    CJ – I KEPT meaning to mention jerk off instructions but I was too busy, um, white knighting her I guess…

  120. This is the first movie I watched in theaters since my daughter was born back in July. I’m obviously a big fan of the first Blade Runner. It used to bug me when people slagged on the movie, but these days, I just proactively let my inner snob out. It’s just not a film that everyone can get.

    In some ways, Blade Runner 2049 is a more conventional film. Where the first movie borrowed the aesthetics of film noir, its plot wasn’t all that similar to noir movies of the 40s because it’s so bare bones. 2049 though has a noir narrative all the way through. Watching 2049 on the big screen was a really incredible experience, even though I also had some dude who sighed loudly every fifteen minutes just to let his displeasure known to the entire audience. It really is the best case scenario for a late in the game sequel to Blade Runner.

    I will get my one gripe out of the way, though. It does try to retcon the relationship between Deckard and Rachel into a love story. In the first movie Deckard pretty much sexually assaults her. I do like that they took the opportunity to allude to the Bible’s Jacob and Rachel story, which was such a fortuitous connection between a previous characters name and the new plot. It also nicely echoes the prodigal son allusion in the first film.

    In fact, there were lots of great moments that “rhymed” with 2019. In fact, the movie reminded me of the Fargo TV show, a great series that serves as a wonderful homage to the original, but is also somewhat diminished because you can’t help but also compare it to the original.

    With regards to the JOI advertisement towards the end, I took it to mean that she was still just a program after all. But also the ambiguity of that moment is probably just as important. I felt that the film did so much more with that one subplot than the Her managed to accomplish even though it built an entire movie around the concept of love and AI. But I also thought Her was pretty awful.

  121. We used to have a real IMAX down her but it was rebranded as a ‘Giant-Screen’ theater. Still like when it was an IMAX, they almost never show feature films and instead focus almost exclusively on edutainment stuff. So if I do go to an IMAX it is actually a LIMAX which I appreciate more for the sound system than I do the size of the screen.

    Do you guys have any opinions on Dolby Atmos theaters? I’ve seen a few things there and each time the sound was way too loud except when I went to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND where the sound was perfect.

  122. RBatty024: Funny you should mention FARGO, there was an episode from the third season which aired this year that uses PETER AND THE WOLF as a framing device, and in BR 2049 you can hear the musical theme of it as a kind of ringtone in a few places.

  123. I don’t think the Rachel/Deckard thing is a retcon. At the end of the first movie they are a couple. And I’m not sure if you could call it a rape. She is after all a machine…

  124. It’s interesting to hear about the love scene on the DVD commentaries, documentaries, etc. It seemed Ridley, the producer and writers could never come to a consensus on the tone of it, and that there is some hand-wringing by them with regards to exactly how “rape-y” it might feel.

  125. “And I’m not sure if you could call it a rape. She is after all a machine…”

    Woah, Woah, Woah! I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a joke, but if not, then it kind of misses the point of the movie.

    It’s hard for me to read that scene between Rachel and Deckard as anything other than a sexual assault. He’s just found out that she’s a replicant, so he sees her as inhuman. He’s clearly been drinking, and then he starts ordering her around while cornering her in the room. I always thought that Rachel left with Deckard in the end because she had nowhere else to go after discovering the truth about herself. I never understood it as a love story.

    You can get around these tricky issues when Deckard is first introduced. Sure, he has a photograph of Rachel, but he’s the same asshole he’s always been. He seems unconcerned about abandoning his child. But the scene with faux-Rachel presented their relationship too much like an authentic love story.

  126. Unconcerned? Deckard is stricken about having to let his child off. But he knows its the only way to keep her safe.

    He never seemed like an asshole here.

  127. Batty, it was a joke. A bad one to highlight how the world Deckard live in sees Rachel, Pris and Zora. It’s absolutely a love story. I see THE scene as Rick showing her what love is. We see that he straight away feels bad about pushing her. She doesn’t feel anything of course, this is something she hasn’t experienced before. But 2049 let us know that they found some sort of happiness.

  128. I’m a bit late to this review, but you know … SPOILERS, etc.

    I never really loved the first movie. Appreciated it, but it just had too many changes of pace, and I just found it a bit dreary, honestly. I really liked this though. Beautiful visually and aurally, and really should be seen on the big screen. The main characters are all engaging (well, apart from Leto’s) and the world is impressively-realised.

    I really appreciated the Joi subplot. Usually the hologram pleasure-women in these kinds of future movies just appear at the beginning of the story before being dropped and replaced by the “real” woman later on. I initally thought the K8A-PrrY prostitute replicant might fill that role (really … did nobody else think that’s who she looked like?), and was happy when she didn’t. I was even disappointed when it seemed like Joi had been unceremoniously dropped on a few occasions (the car crash, etc), and was relieved when she’d appear a few scenes later. I was quite invested in their evolving relationship, and was consequently bummed out by Giant JOI and the “good Joe” comment. On reflection though, I’m not sure what to make of that. If the movie is trying to say that K and Joi’s relationship wasn’t a real one because she was just following her programming, that seems pretty dumb to me within the context of the movie. Replicants are also programmed to follow a set of rules, but clearly have emotions, hopes and dreams, which are the basis of the two movies. (And, if I may offer my non-spiritually-inclined thoughts, so are we programmed, in the form of DNA code passed on at birth.) So maybe the movie’s just putting some questions out there without offering answers … which they can’t really; we still don’t understand consciousness, AI, etc. I saw Giant JOI as this movie’s paper unicorn, in a way. I’d be curious to see how Joi and Giant JOI were written in the script. But anyway, yeah, I wanted there to be something substantial to their relationship, but maybe that’s just me being a closet sappy romantic.

    The big negative for me in the movie was that silly revolutionary angle. It almost seems like makers of big fantasy movies are embarrassed to be making “just” entertainment, and have to try to make it about something more meaningful, which usually takes the form of “poor people gonna rise up”, with various stand-ins for “poor people” (aliens, robots, …). The movie didn’t need it. I wish it hadn’t been written in. I also didn’t buy the whole “break the world” thing. For one thing, would such a revolutionary bit of news have ended up being taken care of solely by K’s supervisor? She might have wanted to kick it up the line a bit. Another thing, if humans have been okay up to now with keeping replicants as slaves, despite their obvious human qualities, then I doubt the fact that they can have children or are naturally born would be of any interest. Are there any humans who care in this world? Actually, there don’t seem to be a whole lots of humans at all in the movie. Joshi, I assume, and Gaff (good to see he found his way to a nice retirement home; he seems to have mellowed out). Presumably Wallace, but what’s up with that guy? Did he take lessons on acting evil on his way up the corporate ladder? I don’t think I buy that he’d be head of a major corporation; I may not have a lot of experience interacting with CEOs, but I’m guessing they’re reasonably good company at parties and stuff. His motivation was also sloppily realised, in my opinion, given how long it would take to raise child replicants rather than just popping them out on a production line. Maybe he’s just supposed to be Crazy Rich Asshole, but I wish they’d taken care of those details differently.

    Some thoughts:

    On balance Deckard seemed to me to be a replicant. That’s what I took from Wallace’s (paraphrased) “Did it occur to you that you were designed to fall in love …” line.

    Did none of the characters think for a moment that Sapper Morton might be the father? I mean, the tree, grave, etc, were in front of his house, the piano was in his house, he was prepared to die for his secret. Did I miss something? Maybe the main characters just knew he somehow wasn’t good-looking enough to be the father?

    Despite those – to me – flaws, I really enjoyed the movie.

  129. Numpty, isn’t all sci fi about people rising up?

  130. Pegsman: not always. Not in the sense of … this is the start of a revolution! The first BLADE RUNNER had a small-scale uprising by a few replicants; that made the point just fine about the horrible system without explicitly needing to start waving the flag of revolt. Same for ALIEN, for example. The company are exploitative assholes, but that doesn’t mean Ripley has to go back to Earth and be part of a revolution. I guess I prefer my movies to be about smaller-scale stuff (e.g. F&F people racing cars for fun vs. F&F superheroes saving the world).

  131. But doesn’t all movie heroes revolt against someone or save something? Small scale revolutions works too.

  132. Sorry for doubting your intentions, Pegsman. This things are hard to interpret on the internet.

    I still think Deckard acts like kind of a jerk when his daughter is brought up. I never really sympathized with the character in the first movie, so I’m sure that’s shading my interpretation.

    As far as the revolution goes, I think this has become something of a trope in neo noir narratives. If anyone has played the 90s classic, Grim Fandango, there’s a revolution subplot in that neo noir as well. I think it comes from how film noir is classified. Movies like Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, and Odd Man Out get thrown into the noir category. Each has a revolution subplot, so subsequent neon noirs feel the need to incorporate this into their stories. It really didn’t bother me, since it was such a small part of the film.

  133. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 23rd, 2017 at 8:00 am

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Deckard doesn’t act like a jerk at all when K brings up his kid, he just gets mad because the way he’s asked about it carries an accusatory tone. It’s obvious it was a rough thing for him to have to do, which is why he doesn’t appreciate some random dude dropping in and implicitly judging him for leaving his kid. Deckard later says it’s better that he doesn’t know the kid at all because they would hunt her down and dissect her. So he’s resigned himself to the fate of being alone, but by the way he acts you can clearly tell that this decision took an emotional toll.

    Ford is fucking brilliant in this, btw. I was surprised at seeing him so awake in FORCE AWAKENS, but in BLADE RUNNER he’s kicked it up a notch. Didn’t know he still had it in him and I love it.

  134. Pegsman: Sure, I completely agree … most movies are about victories of different kinds – winning a boxing match, killing a giant shark, the quest to get laid – just as most people’s lives involve numerous small victories. Not many of these small victories lead to large-scale revolution, however. I appreciate that sci-fi or fantasy movies have the right to go big with their uprisings, but I guess I don’t like when a movie feels the need to imply that a personal victory isn’t enough … in order to be important it has to be tied to some big uprising of the downtrodden. Then it can just feel like dour propaganda (unless in a goofy movie like the first TOTALL RECALL, for instance).

    With something like CASABLANCA … that movie was looking at a real and ongoing war, which people knew involved numerous instances of heroism and sacrifice, not this hypothetical, allegorical uprising of the robots or whatever, which to me feels shoehorned into the movie in a bid to appeal to millennials.

    Luckily, here it was a small enough piece that it could just be ignored, though I’d have preferred if it didn’t have to be.

    Regarding Deckard’s rapey, unempathetic behaviour in the first film, is this ever interpreted as evidence of Deckard’s being a replicant? Come to think of it, the whole empathy argument doesn’t figure too largely in the sequel, does it? They seemed pretty human in their behaviour to me … not sure if it was written that way or if it was acting choices.

  135. I feel like starting a “Not My Deckard!” movement because Deckard isn’t enough of an unsympathetic jagoff in this film.

  136. Ford is clearly experiencing a new spring acting wise. He was damn good as Solo, but this is Oscar material. What better time to revisit Indiana?

  137. I don’t expect the movie to get any acting nominations from either the Oscars or Golden Globes (I’ll be glad if I’m wrong about this, though), but if so I wonder if it would be for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, since he really isn’t the lead as much as Gosling.

    I do suspect it could wind up with a lot of the technical awards though, with Deakins possibly finally breaking his Lucci-esque losing streak.

  138. *SPOILERS* To call a movie “miraculous” seems silly, but that’s the word that kept coming to my mind while watching this. I don’t know how else to describe the fact that something this slow, arty, and faithful to the original actually got a huge budget and a major release. It’s even more of a miracle that my #1 reservation about a sequel (“because it’s going to have to answer if Deckard is a replicant, and I really don’t want it answered”) ….actually doesn’t get answered! And the movie still finds a way to create an engrossing narrative around this! (In fact, you could argue every single character we see in the movie is a replicant and it kinda doesn’t change anything – that’s simply incredible.) There’s so many hypnotic and masterful sequences – most movies these days come and go with zero memorable sequences, this has so many i can’t even begin to recap them all.

    But is it almost too much of a good thing? I have to admit even though I was never bored, the end of the film (especially with no resolution to Leto’s storyline) makes the whole thing feel small and slight and doesn’t really justify the 2 hr 45 min runtime. The climactic fight, while expertly choreographed and shot, ends the movie on a subdued whimper. And yeah, the “rebels want to overthrow the bad guys but might be assholes too” subplot feels tacked on and kinda tired after seeing it in almost every single YA adaptation. Oh, and the central mystery and resolution feels muddy and confusing – I’m still confused as to who exactly employs/imprisons *SUPER SPOILER* Deckard’s daughter. It’s Leto, right? Then how come he has no idea who she is? Are her and Deckard even safe at the end? Seems she would be under some kind of surveillance and they’re just one button press away from getting captured again.

    But whatever, it’s a bold, confident movie, the likes of which I thought were long dead in the studio system. The music is incredible (I actually love that alot of it sounds like an airplane landing or a motorcycle revving), the cinematography is brilliant, and de Armas and Hoeks turn in genuine star-making performances. The acting’s great all around (Leto’s great, I don’t want to hear otherwise) – Villeneuve is crazy good at both the technical showmanship and guiding his actors – he may be the best director working today.

  139. Crushinator Jones

    October 25th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    There’s nothing small and slight about “what does it mean to be human?”

  140. SPOILERS? Seems like anybody reading this far down in the comments can only be reading 10% of the comments, max, and has given up already.

    Anyway… Yes, the prostitute is a replicant. Is the police chief? Is Wallace? Is the dog? Is Deckard? Is Joi?

    Okay, Joi is not, and it seems likely that the police chief is not, and it doesn’t seem necessary to go through every side character and random extra in the street and ask if they are replicants, because the most important questions are these:

    Is the dog a replicant?

    Is Deckard?

    Is the daughter, who is a spawn of either a replicant and a human, or two replicants, human?

    Is Joi alive?

    None of these questions are answered in the slightest, and that’s the whole point of the movie. THIS is what is meant when a movie is supposed to raise more questions than it answers, not the half-ass bullshit of PROMETHEUS or LOST. What does it mean to be alive? Do you have to be able to reproduce? Do you even have to have a body? If you have an artificial life form, and live beside it for years, and you develop feelings for it, and it says it has developed feelings for you, is that real? At what point does it become real? The same question can be asked about the dog, Rachel, Joi, Deckard, Luv, and of course K. What does it mean, that two artificial life forms say they have feelings and love for each other? Maybe the bridge scene casts some doubts on the validity of Joi’s professed love for K, but can a replicant with implanted memories and a bio-engineered brain love any more than her?

    What does it mean when a real human says it has feelings for you? The same biological processes govern a human’s feelings as a replicant’s, and you could argue that an AI’s feelings, while foreign and separate from biology, could potentially arise from the same basic motivations. When a human tells you that it loves you, is it just voicing its own needs and how you make it feel, or does it mean something more? If an AI transcends its programming and tells you its deepest desires, how do you know that is what is actually happening, or if it’s just been programmed to do that? What if a human’s deepest emotions are just genetic programming? People consciously or unconsciously use their professions of emotion to manipulate others to further their own goals of propagating the species and securing resources, with a veneer of verisimilitude on top that everybody accepts as truth except in the most obvious cases of emotional bankruptcy.

    What is love, anyway? Why would an AI spend its last second of existence throwing itself on the ground in front of its “owner” and professing its love?

  141. I think I’ll stay with my theory that it’s all programming, but we people tend to project more into our AIs. For example, if Rachel was able to reproduce she was programmed to do so.

    It could of course also be seen as a religious attempt to introduce a virgin birth.

  142. You’re programmed too pegsman, just with A, C, G, and T.

  143. Let me tell you about my mother..!

  144. I’m all in for calling this an instant classic and worthy of what came before, but I have to admit the soundtrack left me cold when listening to it. For me it was good enough just in the context of the movie, but on it’s own I didn’t have as immediate connection as I have with other Zimmer scores. Considering him and Wallfisch came in at the 11th hour as opposed to being on the ground floor like he is on Christopher Nolan’s work, it’s not too surprising. It does a good enough at keeping the Vangelis vibe while being it’s own thing, but it just didn’t connect when I listened to it on Spotify later.

  145. Cool story: El-P bought the same synthesizer Vangelis used for BLADE RUNNER to make RTJ3

  146. Interesting how famous instruments end up in other people’s hands. Todd Rundgren owns Eric Clapton’s Gibson SG he used during the Cream years, Trent Reznor owns the Mellotron The Beatles used on “Strawberry Fields”, and David Gilmour owns a guitar strap Jimi Hendrix used at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival (a performance Gilmour worked the mixing desk on as it was being recorded andfilmed).

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