Where’s the future? As a preamble, Blade Runner 2049 states a simple truth: we don’t imagine future anymore. We no longer know the way to see it in mind, or guess it. In this new Blade Runner – much darker and distressing than the first one – we can see the inner feature of the story. Just as in Arrival, Villeneuve is very good, although his work fades compared to Spike Jonze’s Her.
He manages to draw the story around Ryan Gosling, as long as the latter is the only one in front of the camera. Instead, the director slips as he tries to warm the hearts with Jo and Joi’s love story. Trouble goes on as you have to take care of the political features of the narration. In this, the director is missing.
He borrows here and there occurrences from other movies. Or worse, there is much from the former Blade Runner itself, so that we once more have replicants unaware of being what they are and yearning to be something else, and some detective inquiring into this. Nothing new, indeed! There grows the suspicion that the narrative outlines haven’t been properly defined, or “imagined”, as we said.
Perhaps, the main fail lies in the script, or rather in the scriptural choice, already seen in many other movies of our time. While in 1982 we had the chance to conceive a movie within the gap between opening and closing titles, today the rules of sequels’ trend tyrannize everything. The real weakness in Blade Runner 2049 lies in this.
It’s a series. It looks like referring to something else which hasn’t been told yet. It seems like wanting to be a middle episode (or a pilot) in a story which goes beyond the snow melting on Gosling’s face (this truly is an iconic scene). Blade Runner 2049, shows the features of a desolated, dark, isolated, polluted and melancholic world, under a faded, absent sky.
If in the first movie’s deep night some hope of a new dawn survived, here the choice is different: the daylight shines to unveil the world for what it is, geometric and uninhabited. Hope is then left to something more tangible – a riot echoing Matrix (what for?). The imaginaerum fades away for good. Because, once more, in the 1982’s Blade Runner hope and waiting stood in something more abstract.
A pause in a dialogue, the rain on your face, a slice of a glimpse of the world. And maybe this is telling slightly more about what we have become. Nonetheless, what makes of this new Blade Runner a good film is the way time is treated.
The single sequences have a cinematographic temporality; the timing is expanded; the camera often lingers on the narrative gaps, as a tribute to a certain genre’s cinema. In conclusion, we have to keep in mind that the early movie was strongly wanted from the production, whilst this one was more a wish from the director. Sometimes production see farther than the artist.