Cinema Review: Blade Runner 2049

I hung in, and I hung in (stoicism can be the reviewer’s essential trait), but with barely ten minutes remaining I yielded to the anguished cry from within – ‘get me out of here!’ Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a godawful movie. So why then am I not surprised by its 8.7 rating on the IMdB vox pop? Is it because sites such as IMdB are generally dominated by mid-twenties, male keyboard warriors (who are also the failsafe target audience of blockbusters of this type)?

The original Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott and set in 2019, was an almost instant sci-fi classic because it was innovative, fresh and entirely original – it pushed the envelope, notwithstanding its underlying nastiness. Thirty-five years later, the sequel is just another overblown, ridiculously self-important example of complexity masquerading as profundity and dressed up in the usual brain-numbing truckloads of noisy CGI. Scott is involved again, as an executive producer, while the less-than-subtle French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve has taken over as director. In the latter stages, Harrison Ford returns as Rick Deckard, but sadly, there is no Rutger Hauer. The hero is ‘K’ (Ryan Gosling), an LAPD bladerunner who, though a replicant himself, tools around in what looks like a rusty flying Cadillac, hunting down what is left of those errant replicants from back when. Villeneuve’s vision of the future is as bleak as every other contemporary filmmaker insists it will be, with the majority of the population impoverished and unwashed and technology reigning supreme – except for the hardcopy doomsday journal that ‘K’ consults late in the piece. Interestingly, it is nearly always raining and dark (which may have been the case in the first Blade Runner), and the story’s boy/girl component is provided by ‘K’s relationship with a cyber-cutie (a bit like Joaquin Phoenix’s in 2013’s Her). But if you don’t care what happens to protagonist it’s hard to go the distance – I didn’t and couldn’t.

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