Monday, 9 October 2017

Movie review: Blade Runner 2049, dir Denis Villeneuve (2017)

Villeneuve is the Canadian director of last year's Arrival, which I reviewed on this blog, and which was a much better film than this one, which suffers from a weak story, one that fails to sustain the viewer's interest for the almost three hours that it runs. Ryan Gosling as the blade runner K is fairly interesting but Harrison Ford as a pugnacious Rick Deckard is too old to be slugging it out inside a derelict and radioactive casino somewhere out in the wastes beyond the city limits of greater Los Angeles. Presumably it's in Nevada.

By this time the whole thing has lost its way, anyway. The story in essence comes down to a struggle between the curiously messianic and almost incomprehensible - he talks in quatrains, it appears - Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) on the one hand and K and his boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) on the other. Joshi and K are searching for a child because the child, apparently - spoiler alert - was the offspring of a human and a blade runner, an outcome that has apparently "broken the world". And Wallace, whose business empire is based on producing replicants, sees the child as evidence of unwanted corporate competition.

It's just so trite. There's very little imagination in evidence here, just a series of scenes where escalating violence - mainly perpetrated by Wallace's sidekick, Luv (Syliva Hoecks) - is meant to result in an increase in the viewer's anticipation, as things progress. But it's hard to maintain any enthusiasm for the characters, even K, despite the fact that he seems to have all the necessary human emotions. But so what? He evinces desire for sex and finds it with his private hologram, Joi (Ana de Armas), but it's not really interesting even when Joi tries to satisfy her owner's desires by synching with the body of a real human, Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) - or is Mariette also a replicant?

There was a lot of hype about the visuals for this movie, which were meant to be good value, and that was one hook to get me in the door, but the dramatic soundtrack just became tiresome and Wallace completely failed to live up to his vaunted reputation as a megalomaniacal sadist. If any character appealed to me it was the poor Joi, a captive simulacrum of a human whose only aim was to please her owner, but who signally failed to do that even in the most prosaic - cinematically speaking - terms. 

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