October 12 — Blade Runner 2049, an excerpt

The film scores its highest marks for its pacing. Too few movies these days — certainly few of blockbuster status — leave space for the viewer to think. Like the first film, 2049’s dialogue is brief but rich and profoudly delivered. Each word hangs in the dark, dirty atmosphere, palpable and heavy with the weight of revelation that each new utterance could possibly bring. It forces the audience to make inferences and leaves space to read between the lines. It lets us take our time settling into this bleak, dystopian world, allowing us to indulge in curiosity, speculation, wonder, disgust, confusion, and doubt. It’s hard not to take the side of the replicants, but why is that? Are they just that close to being persons? Would the ability to reproduce with a real, biological human mean that they have souls in the same sense as us? Where does brilliant engineering cross the line into the miraculous? These aren’t just questions for undergrad film students or sci-fi nerds to discuss after the film. The arc and pace of 2049 lead directly and powerfully into these questions.

The story suffers primarly from one major plot gap. How in the world could a replicant (in a world on the verge of eliminating all rogue replicants) waltz into the heart of LAPD with impugnity not once, but twice, to steal the skeleton recovered from a crime scene and then kill a lieutenant.

In the end, Blade Runner 2049 reminds us just how great sci-fi can be, holding up the best elements the genre has to offer. It isn’t so much aping the original as it is paying homage to it, logging some quality miles in a replicant-haunted universe that has stood the test of time and continues to capture imaginations decades after its release. If our cinemas must be populated with sequels, for so the economics of the business demand, let us hope they are filled with more like this one.