Blade Runner 2049

Tears in the Rain

In Praise of Blade Runner 2049

On October 6th, 2017 Blade Runner 2049 was released. This was a sequel to the 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, which since it’s release had become a cult classic. Seven cuts and 35 years later, visionary director Denis Villeneuve managed to defy the odds and deliver not only a memorable sequel, but a truly awe-inspiring standalone feature film.

I remember seeing this film in IMAX on opening day last year. I actually skipped class to go see this at around 11 in the morning. From the opening text crawl, to the final credits, this movie impacted me in a way that almost no film had done before. Since then I have re-watched the movie a few times, each viewing leaving me as impacted as the last (besides the first, truly a movie that was made to be experienced on the big screen).

Blade Runner 2049 Announcement (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 clocks in just short of three hours and is a science fiction epic. Reviews for the film were overwhelmingly positive, praising the unique style, cinematography, performances, and directing. However, the filmed bombed at the box office, mainly attributed to the lengthy run time, vague marketing, and the fact that the original film was also not a box office success, only garnering a cult following after it’s original theatrical run had ended. At one point in production, there was a rough cut of the film lasting around four hours. This four-hour cut, according to Denis, was split into two separate films, mainly for a more accessible viewing experience, and was even briefly considered for a theatrical release as two movies, but Villeneuve ultimately decided that there would need to be a single definitive release for Blade Runner 2049.

Black Out 2022 Animated Short
2036: Nexus Dawn Short

In the lead up to the release of Blade Runner 2049, three short prequel films were released online to help viewers get more easily reintroduced with the fictional world, as well as to connect the 30 year time gap of the original film with this sequel.

In chronological order these short films are; Black Out 2022: the story of the much talked about “Blackout” and is directed by Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo creator, Shinichiro Watanabe, 2036: Nexus Dawn: the introduction of Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto) and his Nexus model replicants, and lastly, 2048: Nowhere to Run: introduces and briefly fleshes out the character of Sapper (Dave Bautista).

2048: Nowhere to Run Short

Blade Runner 2049 opens with a homage to the original, first with a wall of text, mainly for exposition purposes, and then cutting briefly to the image of an eye opening before finally dropping the audience into this dreary dystopian world. The original Blade Runner opened similarly with a wall of text, followed by the dystopian city, and then ending with a closeup of the eye.

Also in regards to the respective openings of these two films, Officer K’s introduction in Blade Runner 2049 was actually the original intended introduction for Rick Deckard in the original 1982 film, but it was changed during production to have Deckard introduced at the futuristic noodle bar. Villeneuve managed to incorporate the unused character spot in this film, and made it fit perfectly into K’s confrontation with Sapper and the subsequent discovery made at the tree.

Opening Scene of Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Eyes are an important symbol throughout both Blade Runner films. They are used as a way to indicate humanity within characters, or in some cases to call into question some individual’s organic nature. With both the original and the sequel, within the opening moments of each, eyes are used as metaphorical figureheads of each respective film.

During the finale of the original film, antagonist Roy Batty gives his famous “Tears in Rain” monologue, using his sight and perception as a way to humanize the replicants. In a way, it manage to humanize the inhuman.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die. — Roy Batty

Tears in Rain Monologue from Blade Runner (1982)

Religion also seems to play a significant role as one of the central themes throughout the film, with K acting as the Christ figure, and Wallace as the Lucifer character who is devoted to replacing God, no matter the cost. The two never appear on-screen together as well, keeping their character arcs separated throughout the duration of the film. Within the first act of the film, K begins to believe that he is this divine miracle, following his revelation that he believes that he is the first natural-born replicant child. By believing in this truth, he would have been crowned the so-called chosen one of the replicant race.

The discovery of there being a naturally born replicant child leads to the authorities, more specifically Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), trying to prevent the news of replicant child from reaching the public out of fear of the implications this “miracle” would create. Had this information came to light, this child would become the savior figure for the replicant population throughout the world and would also lead to a massive uprising.

Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is the protagonist of this film, the new Blade Runner, unlike Deckard who in the original is a retired Blade Runner. Gosling is brilliant as K and turns in an award worthy performance, breathing fresh life into a truly stoic character, comparable in tone to his roles in Drive and Only God Forgives. It is a nuanced performance, in which Gosling is soft spoken throughout the film, but packs an intense physical performance at each and every turn. He manages to make what is seemingly a truly robotic role, into one of the most human performances imaginable.

Apartment Scene from Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The character of Joi (Ana de Armas) is one of the most interesting characters in a movie, at least in my opinion, in recent memory. The performance from Ana de Armas is incredible in the way that she plays it, with such a flirty and entrancing persona, but also with a childlike naivety. She steals the show in almost every scene she is in, whether it be the apartment scene (linked to the left), the rooftop rain scene, or the hologram walkway scene (linked below). The “You Look Like a Good Joe” scene, is easily one of my personal favorite scenes from the film, and is possibly one of the most powerful, both from a visual standpoint and from the performances on-screen (specifically Gosling).

You Look Like A Good Joe scene from Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) and Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) are the film’s two antagonists. Niander Wallace is the head of the Wallace corporation, the successor of the Tyrell Corporation. Say what you want about Leto’s portrayal of the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad, but he is also a scene-stealer in this film, bringing a truly malevolent presence to the screen as the crazed businessman attempting to play God. Luv, Wallace’s assistant, plays the more physical role, often getting her hands dirty when needed and also able to go toe-to-toe with Officer K.

Casino Scene from Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) makes his return and in a meaningful way, that manages to not feel like a loose connection to the first film or like a cash grab for Ford. Deckard plays an important role in the movie without taking up time from the new cast. He also manages to breathe fresh life into the character of Rick Deckard, giving a more grizzled take on the character after 30 years away. Deckard is also a part of my favorite scene in the film; the casino brawl between K and Deckard.

The original score for Blade Runner 2049 was composed by legendary composer Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The score for this film is truly inspiring, and manages to make itself feel like it is as much of a character as the actual characters on screen.

Tracks like Rain and Joi, manage to capture the beauty behind the character of Joi, an artificial female who just seems so naive and innocent, yet so in love with K throughout the film. Then there is the song, Wallace, the theme for Niander Wallace, and it is the epitome of God-like malevolence. These songs have an optimistic, and at times almost otherworldly feeling to them, helping to engross the viewer’s ears.

Sea Wall — Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch

The almost 10-minute epic track Sea Wall is easily the standout amongst the entire soundtrack. It is the score for the final confrontation between K, Luv, and Deckard, and the music is just as chaotic and powerful as the scene itself.

Blade Runner 2049 also uses songs from Elvis (Can’t Help Falling In Love and Suspicious Minds) and Frank Sinatra (Summer Wind and One For My Baby). Tears in the Rain also reappears from the original film here in the finale of this sequel.

The cinematography of this film also deserves it’s own recognition, as it was the film to *finally* win esteemed cinematographer Roger Deakins his first Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Throughout each and every one of the clips linked in this article, the cinematography is highlighted and showcased. The look of this film is breathtaking to say the least. It is one of the most artistically sound, and easily one of the most beautiful blockbusters to ever grace the big screen. Deakins and Villeneuve managed to make this big-budget, science fiction blockbuster to look like an art film, in the best way possible. It is one of the many reasons to love Blade Runner 2049, and gives it it’s own unique identity.

Behind the Scenes on Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Miniatures

The use of practical effects and miniatures throughout the film is also an extraordinarily effort done by the production team behind the movie. Anytime they were capable of creating a miniature set, in a way to make it look realistic, it was done. This movie’s implementation of CGI is near flawless, with it mainly being used to to create things that would otherwise be nearly impossible (i.e. flying cars through the vast cityscape or the giant hologram of Joi) or for adding an added amount of realism on the technological aspects of this dystopian future.

The visual effects of this movie really are almost too good to be true, with the one scene that stands out from the rest being the love scene between Joi, K, and the replicant prostitute (played by Mackenzie Davis). It is easily one of the most beautiful scenes in cinema from 2017. K finally has the opportunity to embrace with the love of his life, Joi, and yet it is not truly her. Officer K/Joe is stuck feeling emptiness when finally embracing his true love for the first time. Besides the beautiful narrative aspects of this scene, the effect work is also just incredibly crafted and should receive as much notoriety as possible.

Love Scene from Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

The ending to Blade Runner 2049 is as complex as the rest of the film, yet it has a simplistic execution to it that makes it feel so special. For the entire near three hour film, the movie leaves the audience guessing as to Officer K’s true identity, and by the final shot it has managed to wrap up his identity crisis in the neatest way possible. The lasting image that the filmmakers left with audiences is K, laying on the steps of the Memory Center as the snow falls lightly onto him, giving him true peace for the first time since he is introduced.

*I have it here linked below, but highly encourage you to not watch it unless you have already seen the film.*

Final Scene of Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Due to the lackluster financial returns that Blade Runner 2049 saw at the box office, the likelihood of another sequel getting green-lit seems slim, although one of the writers of the film, Michael Green, did just recently announce the follow-up comic book. He has also gone on record saying that he does have an idea for a future film.

Blade Runner 2049 is a film that should have by all means never have been made. It was a sequel to a 1980’s science fiction movie that bombed at the box office and did not receive much attention for years, and yet this sequel was made, not only that, but it was one of the most masterfully crafted sequels to a film ever. Denis Villeneuve created a beautifully shot, emotional and surprisingly artistic science fiction blockbuster. It was a movie that simply put did not receive the viewership or attention it deserved for telling such an intricately woven story 35 years after it’s predecessor’s release.

--

--

--

Entertainment Writer, Sometimes a Film Critic, Avid Disney Villain Song Connoisseur || Follow me on Twitter @NVProfoundFilm

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

976-EVIL (1988) • Blu-ray [Eureka Classics]

Retro Review: Candyman (1992)

SHORT AND SNAPPY

A Brief Chat with Logan Sandler, the Director of LIVE CARGO

Seeing Life In A Beautiful Way — A USC Miniflix Interview With Tiffany Kontoyiannis

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
NotVeryProfoundFilm

NotVeryProfoundFilm

Entertainment Writer, Sometimes a Film Critic, Avid Disney Villain Song Connoisseur || Follow me on Twitter @NVProfoundFilm

More from Medium

On The Last Day of School

Review of Soji Shimada’s Book: The Tokyo Zodiac Murders

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (GPU, 2012)

Five Song Friday: Beware the Wandering Mind