The original Blade Runner came out in 1982. I was three years old. The first time I watched it was on a VHS copy, probably around 1984 or 1985. We were in Germany, then. VCRs were $800 and it was a huge deal to score a copy of any movie, as they took a long time to reach consumers. It was a different era.
Three decades distort memory, but I recall sitting cross-legged on high-pile carpet, my face too close to the screen full of flying cars, the imposing Replicant of Rutger Hauer, neon lights through a gray city dystopia, and Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard as probably the first anti-hero I remember that won by failing. It was unsettling. It was invigorating.
There are more than a handful of moments in Blade Runner 2049 that took me back to the original. Gosling is one of my favorites (I immediately forgave him for La La Land–Ryan, you “saved jazz,” but that ending was inexcusable), and he brings a silent suffering to some of his best roles. Blade Runner may be equal to The Place Beyond the Pines and Drive in that regard. The cinematography and the deliberate pacing asks viewers to think (really think) about what’s really going on in the quiet moments on the screen. I haven’t seen a movie like it in a long, long time.
Good science fiction makes you wonder, but it also demands an introspection.
What do you think?
What do you feel?
What makes it (or any of this) real?
And, most importantly:
I watch films to escape. I used to escape a lot more frequently. I’m down to about four trips to the movie theater a year, so the bar is set high. I waste a lot of my days in a job I hate. I complain a lot and I pretend that I am powerless to do anything about it. Yet all it takes is a 164-minute to remind me, that’s why it’s so important–the right escape. It reminds us that nothing is permanent, and that we are still supposed to be looking for the answers to our own questions. Just like science fiction.
Watch this film when you are ready for something different. Look for the small moments, like the brief meeting Edward James Olmos’ Gaff places an origami sheep on the table strategically: Denis Villeneuve is winking at us as he slips a comforting arm on our shoulders. 2049 shows us, more than once, how we were “drunk on the memory of perfection.” By the time “Tears in Rain” plays again, we remember Why.