I just watched a mediocre movie today, so here it goes.
Blade Runner 2049
. Why not a nice, even 2050? Don’t know. In fact, there’s a whole lot of don’t knows throughout this movie, because they expect you to watch the first movie right before it and memorize a lot of little details, so if you’ve seen the original years ago (or not at all) they don’t explain anything and you’re up shit creek.
The movie begins with a very long string of dots that I think were supposed to be words but damn they’re small. Each “letter” (I assume) is a rectangle of 6 pixels on my TV. The text, if it was text, was too small to read even an inch from the screen. I hope it wasn’t important. It’s also a very dull orange color. The same is true of the ending credits. They were so small they were just dots.
After that we find a fancy European car with louvers at a house with a bunch of greenhouses and a sky filled with fog. Every scene either has fog, rain, or total darkness. This was the third darkest movie I’ve ever seen, after AVP: Requiem and The Descent. There was one scene where it was so dark the screen was totally black and there was no sound and I didn’t know if it had ended or not.
That also happens a lot. This movie has like six fucking endings and then it keeps going for two and a half hours during which about 30 minutes of plot happens. Several times I was totally expecting the credits to start rolling and then the movie just kept going until my bladder reached it’s limit and I had to pee anyway knowing I wouldn’t miss anything important.
Oh, and the car can fly. That’s an important point later in the movie.
Ryan Gosling and his one expression meet a bald guy who’s growing maggots or something in an indoor swamp. They look like peanuts at first until they start to move, so I guess they’re bugs or something, we’re never told.
The bald guy is a “replicant” and if you know nothing about the lore of this franchise you have no clue what that means. Ryan Gosling is a replicant too, which means they can both beat the shit out of each other and not die. Are they robots? Don’t know. Maybe the text at the beginning would have explained it better if it wasn’t microscopic. Apparently the bald guy’s name is Sapper according to the Wikipedia page
but they don’t really do enough to hammer the names home in this movie. Ryan Gosling has to kill Sapper because he’s an older model and that’s bad, I guess. They never explain it. Newer models have to kill older models for some reason, just accept it. After a fight Ryan Gosling kills Sapper and cuts his eye out as proof so he can get a bounty and buy his hologram wife a new projector. They have hologram wives in the future and they are all named Joi and played by Ana de Armas, who’s Cuban but really looks Chinese in this movie. They do some crazy stuff with makeup in this movie, trust me.
Replicants are slaves in 2049 (I’m just writing 2050, it’s easier). Why? Don’t know, just accept it. People are also extremely racist against replicants, even coworkers. Why? Don’t know. The only way to tell them apart from normal humans is by scanning their eyeballs so how the fuck would anyone know? Don’t know, just accept it.
Ryan Gosling’s boss is an older woman named Madam, unless that’s her title, they never say. She’s the head of the LAPD. Los Angeles in 2050 is still a shithole only now there’s Chinese (or Japanese, or Korean in one scene) writing everywhere, neon signs, and flying cars that have miraculously eliminated all traffic. It also rains 24/7 and no one has lights in the future. Every room is extremely dark, lit either with neon signs or very dull orange lights that shimmer like water, which look really cool but you’d get eye strain pretty quick if you tried to read anything. They have books in the future, Pale Fire and Treasure Island, among others.
A dig team visited the site where Sapper was killed and found a chest containing a skeleton of a woman who died in childbirth. Apparently she too was a replicant. But replicants can’t get pregnant, so this discovery must be swept under the rug or the world will end for some unspecified reason. The boss is very adamant about this. She wants Ryan Gosling to find the child and kill it.
Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, has his own plans. He visits an archive run by the only replicant in the world who has a name. She’s Luv and she works for Jared Leto who invented replicants or something and he used them to conquer nine planets, a fact that pisses him off because he should have conquered thousands. Jared Leto wants to find the child too but there are no records as to who it could be since an unspecified cataclysm called “The Blackout” eliminated all digital media prior to 2030 I think.
Jared Leto has a problem. Even though anti-gravity and interstellar travel and memory uploading exists they haven’t found a way to manufacture replicants fast enough to meet the demand. You see all great civilizations are built on the backs of slaves, except they aren’t. Slavery has been the reason great civilizations have stagnated and died, since unlimited free labor artificially holds back technological progress. But whatever, space racism built nine planets of civilization out of space cotton and the factories can’t crank out space negros fast enough to colonize the galaxy so Jared Leto has to find the one replicant who was born and not made in a factory to make self-replicating replicants who are superior to humans in every other way and won’t resent being slaves and totally won’t rise up and exterminate the humans.
Except that’s exactly what the replicants are planning to do. They already know who the child is and are waiting for the right moment to stage a rebellion and overthrow the humans. Jared Leto’s plan is poorly thought out bullshit that is guaranteed to fail, but whatever, accept it for the movie to continue.
Blade Runner 2049 requires you to have a PhD in Blade Runner-ology to know what the fuck is going on but simultaneously requires you to shut your brain off and not notice that nothing makes any sense and exists just as plot contrivances to drive the story forward. And fucking hell do they cram a whole lot of plot and a whole lot of twists and a whole lot of unnecessary complexity into two and a half fucking hours.
Where was I? Ryan Gosling goes back to the farm and sees a date carved into a tree trunk. That date was exactly 10 days ago (10 June 2021). So where are my holographic wives, flying cars, and artificial humans? This is the future, and I want all that stuff. Ryan Gosling then burns the house down. Why? Don’t know. Ryan Gosling has to keep his boss off his tracks because he doesn’t trust her. He’s also being tailed by some replicant hookers. The hottest one has orange hair and tries to seduce him. Remember earlier when I said they did some weird shit with makeup in this movie? You look at this chick and she’s so hot you don’t believe it. You’ve only met one person in the really real world who looks this good (maybe better) and she has a pretty crappy personality and more baggage than… than… than something that holds a whole shitton of baggage (I can’t come up with genius all the time) , so you dodged a silver bullet there. But enough about my dating history, back in the movie, this hooker is so hot you don’t believe it. And then you look her up on IMDB and find out that she’s the soydrogynous mandroid from the latest Terminator movie and you wonder how the fuck something like that can happen. That’s some great makeup or CGI or something. (By the way, a mandroid is a man android, as opposed to like a chickdroid.)
This is now 3 single-spaced sheets of paper and the movie isn’t even half over yet.
Anyway, the movie makes it painfully obvious that Ryan Gosling is the super-replicant messiah child who was born and not made, because he has memories of his childhood with a wooden horse that really exists in the really real world. He also visits a doctor with no immune system who can read memories with a microscope because that’s a thing 30, sorry 28 years from now. Fuck off 2049. She tells him that his memories are real and not implanted. But it’s a stupid plot twist because she’s the child and she deliberately implanted her real memories into Ryan Gosling as a red herring because this is a movie and not real life and everything that happens is a plot contrivance. And we find out that the dead woman replicant was Rachel from the first movie and she had a kid with Harrison Ford who maybe is a replicant or a human, no one knows. We don’t find any of this out until two hours in.
Ryan Gosling has to leave LA and goes into an even worse shithole in some unspecified place in North America where everyone speaks Russian for some reason. Why? Don’t know. Where as LA was a filthy, dark ghetto with thousand story skyscrapers for Atari and 400 foot tall holographic naked women, wherever Ryan Gosling goes next is a literal wasteland of garbage full of Russians. Luv, watching from a satellite or something, blows up the Russians with missiles because Ryan Gosling has to find an orphanage run by the black guy from the first episode of Walking Dead. His orphanage is full of bald white kids who strip old computer parts of their gold like Chinese kids do in the really real world today. Ryan Gosling threatens to kill him unless he reveals who the messiah replicant child is, but that page is missing from his record book. Who took it? Don’t know.
Luv also kills the Madam boss of the LAPD because she wants to kill the messiah child and Jared Leto wants the child brought to him alive.
Also Ryan Gosling is going to be “retired” (killed) in 48 hours since he’s completed his mission. Or, he lied about completing his mission and Madam believes him. Was he scheduled to be killed at this date or is he being killed because he knows too much and is now a threat? And if it’s the latter why not just wipe his memories? If false memories can be implanted then surely real memories can be erased. Whatever, you’re not supposed to think about it.
Back at home Joi hires the orange-haired hooker to have sex with Ryan Gosling while she projects herself holographically onto the hooker’s body because poor Joi can’t touch Ryan Gosling because she’s just a hologram. It’s sad because she’s so nice. You could say she’s only nice because that’s how she’s programmed, but I’d take that over the people we have in the really real world any day. It’s a really erotic scene even though you don’t see anything (there are naked people, men and women, throughout this movie and the one time no one is naked is the sex scene, which happens entirely off screen) because they sure used some high tech wizardry to make that chick super hot.
Oh, also somewhere Jared Leto has a naked replicant woman dropped from the ceiling in his office which is very dark and has very dull orange lighting. He gropes her, complains about how he’s not the god emperor of mankind, and then murders her. He also has a whole collection of Bluetooth earpieces that Luv brings him in a wooden box because wood is the most precious commodity on the planet.
Ryan Gosling visits some black guy in the ghetto who talks some unknown African language. Everyone in this movie is functionally multilingual. They all speak their own native language and yet understand what everyone else is saying without the need to translate. According to wikipedia it’s called non-convergent discourse
. The African guy analyzes the wooden horse that Ryan Gosling has and it reveals that it is highly radioactive, so much so that there’s only one place on Earth that it could have come from. Where? Don’t know. They never tell you where any of these locations are.
Ryan Gosling takes Joi with him to an even worse shithole where everything is bright orange and the sky is totally opaque orange fog and there are statues of naked women everywhere because why not. And I mean EVERYTHING. The interiors of all buildings are orange too. His scanners reveal that the only life in the area is a bee hive and that somehow leads him to a very surprisingly large building that’s 100 stories tall and has gaming tables, several bars, and an auditorium that can accommodate thousands. Also, the sign on the front of the building is written in both Japanese and Korean. Apparently Harrison Ford from the first movie has been living there with his dog for the past 28 years. How did he survive the super-intense bright orange radiation? Don’t know. He has a fight with Ryan Gosling who doesn’t want to fight him, thinking that Ford is his dad, even though Ford is the dad of the scientist girl, so he lets a very haggard, old Harrison Ford punch him in the face several times while holographic Elvis Presley sings in the background (that actually happens in the movie) until the almost 80-year-old Ford gets exhausted and has to stop so he invites Ryan Gosling to have a drink.
Harrison Ford gets his dog drunk and acts angsty with Ryan Gosling who finally gets Ford to talk. He says he abandoned his child so no one would hunt the child down. But if they haven’t hunted Ford down and this messiah child has been on the loose for 28 years and hasn’t been in any danger yet what makes anyone think… whatever, you’re not supposed to think, just watch the plot advance.
Luv and some masked nobodies break into Ford’s penthouse, kidnap Ford, beat the crap out of Ryan Gosling, and kill Joi. They leave the dog to die alone stranded in the penthouse. The scene literally ends with the sad dog looking out the broken hundred story window. They did that.
The hot chick rescues Ryan Gosling and introduces him to some old woman and a bunch of nobodies who are the replicant resistance. They know that science lady is the child and have known all along and are waiting for the right moment to rise up and enslave the humans. When is the right moment? Don’t know. They’ve waited 28 years already and it doesn’t look like they’re in any hurry. Old woman then emotionally rapes Ryan Gosling, cruelly mocking him “What, you thought YOU were the messiah child? Don’t make me laugh. You’re nothing special. You’re a nobody, a worthless piece of shit living a meaningless life and that’s all you’ll ever be. Fuck you.” That’s not an actual quote but some people online take that to be the moral of the story. Science lady implanted her real memories into Ryan Gosling because fuck knows, it’s just there as a red herring so the movie can hit you with a last minute plot twist.
Jared Leto has Harrison Ford in his now even darker office and don’t lights exist in the future? He gropes Ford, asks him where the child is, and then presents Ford with a fake Rachel, who Ford rejects. Luv then shoots her in the face and, at Jared Leto’s command, takes Ford to LAX to be taken “off world” to be tortured until he talks.
Ryan Gosling in his space Mercedes-Benz shoots down Luv’s space jalopy and the two of them fight in a waist deep puddle somewhere, at night, or daytime, who knows, it’s pitch black 24/7. Luv stabs Ryan Gosling in the stomach, I think, it’s too dark to tell, and flexes that she’s the best replicant who has ever lived. She then goes to get Ford who is near drowning because the waist deep water is somehow flooding the space jalopy and Ford is handcuffed to a sofa. Then, wouldn’t you know it, Ryan Gosling leaps out of the waist deep water (how was he hiding in waist deep water?) and with his superior strength shoves Luv’s head underwater until she drowns like six whole minutes later. Her death takes a really long time. Ryan Gosling then breaks Harrison Ford loose and tells him “You died in that crash. Now nobody will come look for you.” Wait, if no one looked for him in the previous 28 years and now they know he’s alive and his body wasn’t discovered at the crash site wouldn’t they redouble their efforts to find him now? Whatever, you’re not supposed to think about it.
Ryan Gosling then takes Harrison Ford to see his daughter science lady. It’s snowing now even though it was raining just a few hours ago. It’s also daytime, I think, because the sky is opaque grey instead of opaque black. Ryan Gosling then sits down on the stairs and looks up at the sky. Did… did he die? The plot just leaves him there without telling us what happens.
Harrison Ford puts his hand up on the glass protecting science lady and she puts her hand up to his. The end.
You may ask yourself “That seems like an extremely cynical, pessimistic take on the movie, so why do you say it’s mediocre and not crappy?”
Because, for all it’s worth, it really did seem okay until the last 20 minutes or so. It was going pretty good until the twist at the end that revealed Ryan Gosling was a nobody and that science lady was the messiah child. The movie presents an incredibly bleak, filthy, disgusting future 30 years from now that’s totally believable, where 99.99% of people are poor slaves living in festering slums while a handful of trillionaires control multi-planetary empires and kill whoever they want to satiate their own sick god complexes. It’s totally realistic.
Blade Runner 2049 got a lot right: great premise, a cool mystery, the right mixture of cool technology and believable social elements, a good soundtrack, and that super hot chick. It has lots of fantastic elements that just don’t fit together. In better hands it could have been a masterpiece, but instead it’s a jumbled mess that drags on for too long, has extremely poor lighting, and just doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not as bad as Ghost in the Shell, which was another generic Hollywood movie that bought the rights to another franchise to use its title but didn’t really have anything to do with that original story (I’m looking at you, Starship Troopers), but it’s not great. It feels like it’s setting up a sequel that will never happen because it tanked at the box office, and the protagonist is just a plot device who exists to get two characters who have 15 minutes of cumulative screen time together at the end before maybe dying alone in a snowy wilderness like his life has been totally meaningless.
Blade Runner 2049 is a solid C+, maybe even a B- if I’m feeling generous. It’s not crap, but it’s not good either, it just kind of exists.