Blade Runner 2049 – first thoughts

blade runner birth

I’m still cobbling together thoughts about Blade Runner 2049. At a cinematic level, I appreciated its measured pace. It has an understated melancholy that one often projects onto characters in Dick’s novels. Its architecture of ruination provided a formal theatrical, even operatic, counterpoint to the isolation and brokenness of its protagonists. There were performances to relish from Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.
Maybe this juxtaposition of misanthropic architecture and preoccupation with authenticity or subjective truth supports the criticism that its dystopia is nostalgic and overly concerned with the mirage or “miracle” of the human, when it could have operated at a more speculative, posthuman level. It is, if not nostalgic, a far more classical or aesthetically modernist film than the original Blade Runner where everything, and not just the built environment, is already raw material for its depthless text.
In this connection, one could criticize BR49’s fetishizing of sex as both force of production and site of inner truth. But even this all-too-human fixation is shown to be pitifully exposed and fragile by the conclusion. And it’s not as if the posthuman provides any workable alternative ethic or emancipatory potential. In short BR49 is probably as good a sequel as we could expect to Scott’s anoriginal original.

4 thoughts on “Blade Runner 2049 – first thoughts

  1. Three eye surgeries kept me from watching this when it came out, but I’ve had an opportunity to see it a couple times now. The first time, it set off sentimentality detectors at every turn, but the second time through, I began to see the movie as MORE interesting than the original, if only because of the way it systematically undermines/contradicts each and every nostalgic twist. Relentless is perhaps a better word. I now think it’s a great example of how some movies can clamber over authorial shortcomings.

  2. Yeah, I think it is more subtle than it seems at first sight. It is less a nostalgic film than a film about nostalgia as prophylactic. The literal miracle of the replicant birth still seems gratuitous to me, though I can see how it plays out in terms of the film’s concerns with autobiography and identity. Still, what’s wrong with Replicants seizing the means of replication? Likewise, Wallace’s megalomaniac scientist was a false note in another nuanced cast. In many ways it’s the liminal things that will continue to reel me in – K’s marginalization; the almost impossible intimacy with a wholly synthetic ‘light job’ Joi. The scale, chthonic sound-world and classical pacing layered over a substrate of ‘posthuman’ mixtures burgeoning with their own pasts.

  3. Agreed. Jared Leto seemed to working hard not to phone his performance in as well. Waste of talent. Joi’s narrativization of K’s arc, and K’s embrace of its commodified irreality more than makes up for these shortcomings. She was deceiving him all the way through, giving him a false function over and above his bureaucratic one–kind of like rock n’ roll.

    Sent arcs of electricity between all the Nietzsche hairs on the back of my neck.

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