The robot, K, and his hologram, Joi, are in love. Real love. Blade Runner 2049 is often dark and violent, but the romance is sweet. Two scenes – one in the rain and one in the bedroom – feel genuinely tender. K and Joi make a great couple.
Yet as K, an LAPD cop, works his case, he is literally surrounded by reminders that Joi is a product, something mass-produced for purchase. In a late low moment, K is approached by a giant 3-D ad of Joi, naked, selling sex. How will K reconcile his relationship with the truth of their existences?
Just kidding. Ain’t no reconciliation in Blade Runner! BR2049 stays baffling, and bless its ambiguity. It exists to baffle. Movies are pop art and cannot tell us whether, say, you must be born (“pushed into the world, wanted”) to have a soul. But, if bold, they can ask very well.
The masses might not like this – Blade Runner 2049, like its predecessor, was not a hit in theaters – but artsy power is real. The look – dusky daytimes and wet neon at night – mixes with tech and philosophy into an experience that lingers. The real world felt strange to me after seeing BR2049.
Not that it isn’t fun. K chases and fights other robots. He is hunted by a terminator-esque villain (named Luv) with knife skills and bomber drones. The plot unwraps a massive conspiracy, and does resolve. Harrison Ford is brusque yet likable, even if his contribution has been oversold in the movie’s ads.
Action, melodrama and marketing aren’t the priorities, though, and so Blade Runner 2049 takes its sweet time with freaky details and vexing diversions. It is long (almost three hours) and literary. A new robot spills slimily from a bag, and we are told she has no soul because that was not birth. But it looks like birth. And if K has no soul, how can he love Joi? And if Joi is a product, how can she love K?
This movie is a product – huge budget, major stars, hot director – so how can I love it? Idon’tknowIDon’tKnowIDON’TKNOW!!!