Replicant or human? Blade Runner 2049 reignites existential debate

Replicant or human? Blade Runner 2049 reignites existential debate

It's best knowing as little as possible about the film as going in, so here are the very bare bones: following an unspecified yet devastating widespread environmental collapse, and a brief prohibition on the manufacturing of replicants, businessman Niander Wallace (a scenery-chewing and thankfully rarely seen Jared Leto) has bought out the Tyrell corporation from the first film and is using it to pump out thousands of "bioengineered humans" to exploit as slave labour. The world of Blade Runner 2049 has changed a lot from the original movie. This world was mentioned but never seen in Blade Runner, while the new film gives us a landscape that's been blighted by environmental catastrophes and is now largely abandoned.

Ryan Gosling and Ana De Armas in "Blade Runner 2049".

Set thirty years after what happened in the original movie, Blade Runner 2049 follows Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a young LAPD cop who hunts rogue Replicants and gets them retired or killed. A throwback to the first film comes in the form of Harrison Ford, who recreates his role of retired blade runner Rick Deckard. In fact the screening I attended had a note by Villeneuve himself urging us not to disclose any key details of the plot to others. Villeneuve keeps his balance. But I confess, I wanted the sequel to be a match for the original, the way "The Godfather, Part II" and "Empire Strikes Back" were. It's too much like a Replicant - a cold, synthetic representation of humanity that somehow convincingly conveys emotions, but doesn't fully understand them.

More importantly, the first story ends on a ideal note of uncertainty (at least in Ridley Scott's director's cut, as well as his subsequent "final cut").

This is thankfully not the case with Villeneuve's sequel. (Okay, maybe one guffaw.) Robin Wright plays Joshi, K's superior at the LAPD, and Dave Bautista is a worm farmer who early on clashes with K.

"Yeah, I had contacts", Leto finally confessed.

Harrison Ford has fought alongside the light side for over 40 years now as Han Solo in Star Wars franchise.

He goes on to tell her to "cheer up", to more laughs from the host and Gosling.

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By the time filming was finished, "Blade Runner" had morphed far beyond Dick's vision.

Ford and Gosling stopped by the British talk show This Morning to promote their highly-anticipated film, and ended up engaging in a hilarious rapport with interviewer Alison Hammond. A story turn that feels flat in the end. It's a standout performance in a movie filled with great performances. This is no Pandora, but the cinematography by Roger Deakins perfectly captures the dreary post-apocalyptic conditions and make them look visually stunning.

The story takes place in a world that is fully within the universe that the original setup, but everything is more gritty, desperate and dilapidated than it was 30 years ago. It then may be a blessing that the director taking over from Scott for "2049" was Denis Villeneuve, an interesting filmmaker who proved his sci-fi credentials with 2016's "Arrival".

Clocking in close to the three-hour mark, Blade Runner 2049 is both spectacularly immersive and erring on the side of indulgent decompression. It isn't action-packed, but it's never boring because you're invested in the characters and the mystery they're trying to solve.

All you need to know is - the film picks up a few years after the events of the first one.

You have to watch it! The predictability doesn't take away from the enjoyment of Villeneuve's work, however.

Leaving the technical brilliance aside, I am not getting into the debate as to whether Blade Runner really needed a sequel. It is constantly pressing down on the story as it plays out and manages to make the bleak future feel even more claustrophobic and depressing than it already is.