This lifeless movie looks like it is a biologically engineered sequel to a cult classic, directed by a replicant called Denis Villeneuve. The idea of the original ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) was that in the futuristic world of 2019, humanity would have trouble ensuring the survival of its species and so would have to create a working class made up of genetically engineered clones, or replicants. That has proved to be completely untrue. It is already 2017, and the problem that the planet has is precisely to do with the easy success of the species, and the availability of cheap labour in excess.
The dystopian world in the first film, artfully presented by Ridley Scott, has not come true, and this sequel, far from giving us a world that appears even remotely possible, bores us beyond tears. ‘K’ (Ryan Gosling) is a newer model of a similarly engineered species, whose job it is to be a ‘blade runner’, eliminating the replicants from the older generation that have gone ‘rogue’. Going rogue would mean not obeying orders from a human authority, making individualistic decisions, forming families, creating unions to resist authoritarian systems, and, in short, behaving like humans with a dangerously liberal ideology.
‘K’, obeying orders from his ‘Madam’, kills a rogue replicant who was leading a freedom movement. He finds a box in his farm which he brings back. On forensic analysis, it is found that the box contains the remains of a female replicant, who died while giving birth. This is considered impossible, even heresy, because a creature who gets pregnant has not been engineered yet. The scientists are panic stricken because it means that a child, somehow born of this replicant, would now be an adult and would be able to procreate, threatening and challenging the position of human creators in the system.
Most of the film is seen from the perspective of ‘K’, as he goes about his professional and personal life. He has an artificial live-in girlfriend called Joi (Ana de Armas), who is manufactured by a company that guarantees satisfaction. She fixes his dinner, gets him a drink, and magically changes her clothes to match his moods. Most importantly, she appears and disappears at his will. Eventually, she also falls in love with him, in a virtual sort of way. At one point, Joi even brings a human girlfriend for ‘K’, and merges into the woman to experience the love making for herself.
The pace of the film is a slow crawl, the conversations are deathly dull, the acting robotic, and the scenery quite spectacular. The presentation of this panorama of emptiness lulls us into a soporific state. The space/time equation of our functional real world seems absurdly anachronistic by comparison. The colours and the frames in the movie world are much more stimulating for the soul. ‘K’ has said repeatedly that he possesses a soul. All that the community of critics has to do is to manufacture critical consent that ‘Blade Runner 2049’ has, indeed, a soul. The rest is advertising.