ATTENTION: THE REVIEW FOR THIS ARTICLE IS SPOILER-FREE BUT THE “ENDING THEORY” SEGMENT IS VERY SPOILER HEAVY. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Let me get something out of the way before I begin discussing Blade Runner 2049. The first time I saw the original Blade Runner, I was about eleven or twelve years old and my father had just bought the film on Blu-ray. He decided to show it to me, even though I was far too young to understand almost anything that Ridley Scott was trying to say at the time. Now, that I am older and more mature, a sequel has arrived. Directed by Sci-Fi powerhouse, Denis Villeneuve, and shot by Academy Award nominee, Roger Deakins, there’s no way this can be bad, right? Right.
The most respectable decision that co-writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green made while going about crafting the sequel was to make it stand on its own legs. This isn’t a redundant cash-grab that will only appeal to fans of its predecessor, it’s a relevant and necessary sequel that anyone can go see regardless of who they are. There is something in it for everyone. The mainstream audience members can enjoy the incredible atmosphere, visceral cinematography (courtesy of Roger Deakins), and the pounding bass score that added even more tension and anxiety to the narrative. While the more artistic side of the crowd can enjoy the amount of thought and effort is put into both the story and the characters. Which brings me to my personal favorite part of the film, Ryan Gosling’s character (and his performance).
Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling would be the last person you would expect to play a poker-faced android, even more so when one of his most recognized roles was the upbeat jazz enthusiast from La La Land. This is the final nail in the coffin for people who attempt to preach Gosling not having range in terms his acting abilities. He slightly reminisces on his performance in Lars and the Real Girl here but you never feel like he is just back again playing the same quirky outsider from the 2007 indie-hit. This is mostly thanks to the various subtleties in Gosling’s performance and how he fully embodies the character but also because due to how thoroughly developed the character was.
He may come off as a metaphor for a cardboard cutout at first but as we delve deeper into this character, we slowly begin to realize the humanity that he doesn’t want you to notice. Gosling, or Constable K, longs for romantic affection but he blocks out these feelings – he even attempts to prevent Joi, his robotic girlfriend from displaying affection. He lives in a state of solitude, numb to almost all human emotions, which does make blade running much easier but leaves your soul feeling rather empty. One of the more intimate sequences in the entire film involves Joi hiring a prostitute to sync bodies with, so K can finally (in a way) be physically intimate with her. This scene doesn’t only just work as an incredibly beautiful portrayal of longing for the touch of the person that you love, it also works as a way of adding more stakes to these characters. After being this intimate with each other (or believing they have been) the emotional stakes have been raised higher than ever before, leading to even more anxiety on whether or not these characters will live throughout the events of the film.
To the surprise of literally nobody who has seen even the slightest fragment of advertising for the film, Harrison Ford reprises his role from the predecessor. Contrary to what these advertisements would lead you to believe though, he is not in the film for a very long time. They never overuse his character or aberrantly emphasize on the fact that he is indeed Harrison Ford (like most Hollywood reboots nowadays would do). Instead, the film perfectly fits his character into the narrative, making the choice to include him feel relevant and deserved.
There’s always the ongoing discussion on the abundant amount of sequels, reboots, and rip-offs as of late (aka the general lack of creativity in Hollywood at the moment). Blade Runner 2049 is a story that deserves to be told. It’s a thought-provoking work of art that fully ponders on topics such as humanity with a fair amount of social commentary to go along with it. The life that Villeneuve breathes into every single frame is remarkable, each detail adds to the enthralling atmosphere of the film that only gets better with every crisp and colorful establishing/tracking shot. All I can say is that I can’t wait to see it for a third time.
ATTENTION: HEAVY SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT
Now it is time to get into the main reason why a good amount of you clicked on the article, to hear me discuss the ending. Maybe you were left slightly confused, maybe you want to confirm your suspicions or maybe you just want to hear my two cents, well I’m about to give them to you! Villeneuve is no stranger to subjective endings or leaving everything in a messy ribbon rather than a neat little bow. He’s at his strongest when he’s not abiding by a linear storyline (I consider Enemy to be his best film). What threw me for a loop was K telling Deckard after the climax “you did die, you drowned out there, you’re free to meet your daughter now”. You could say that “this was K telling Deckard that he is finally free because he is assumed dead” but it seems a little too “easy” for a film that’s so heavy substance-wise to have such a sentimental ending. I’m looking at it from the standpoint that Deckard does, in fact, die during the fight between Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) and K. After The Resistance tells K to kill Deckard (to keep the secrets of the replicant reproduction hidden from Wallace) and with the words “dying for the right cause is the most human thing we can do” ringing throughout his head as he stares at an advertisement for a “Joi Robot”, K essentially goes on a suicide mission to kill two birds with one stone – kill Deckard and avenge Joi’s death. He successfully intercepts the convey and kills both Luv and Deckard.
“So why did the final moments of the film play out in a way where Deckard has a clear impact on the world?” You may ask. Well – I don’t have any rock solid evidence for this – but I believe that we are seeing Deckard’s daughter creating the final moments of the film with the same device that she uses to create memories. Essentially, she’s visualizing how she would want her father to visit her. She would love for him to finally visit her after all these years – just randomly pop in while she’s working, fresh out of an intense battle that’s filled with peril like the hero she’d always thought he would be. He slowly walks towards the window between the two of them and puts his hand on the glass, subtly implying an “it’s me” as the film comes to a close. Maybe K goes to Ana (Carla Juri, a.k.a Deckard’s daughter) and informs her of the death of her father, causing her to craft this ending purely to cope with the fact that she’ll never receive the satisfaction of meeting her father and she went on to give herself that fake memory. You could even go as far as to say that the entire film was created by Ana and that she knitted together the whole narrative of her notorious father together as another way to cope. At the end of the day, Blade Runner 2049 is a film about love and what it means to be human. No other big-budget blockbuster has explored such sensitive subject matters in a way that is this tasteful, accurate and thought-provoking. I hope it makes the money it deserves at the box-office and that all of you reading this see it again soon!