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.