I really wanted to like Blade Runner 2049. But, I must confess, it didn’t sit well with me at all. Though I liked the acting and was impressed with the film technically, I found all the sexist and misogynist imagery and sensibilities downright disgusting and very, very tired. It was chock full of white heterosexual male fantasy material, relentless objectification of and periodic cruelty to women, and with no gay/bi/lesbian individuals or any such imagery oriented towards us. There was no significant portrayal of people of color. Ah, yes, wait, a skanky African street vendor in one scene, who wanted to sell the leading man a replicant animal. And in another scene: a shifty black guy running a children’s sweatshop out of the enormous local landfill. Stereotypes alert here: Shady black guy trying to sell something illegally, or questionably so, and a grubby exploiter of the vulnerable. Just how black men need to be portrayed in a movie, again. Great.
It was like watching a long, bad dream, emphasis on long, too long. Yeah, there were some hallucinogenic scenes, such as leading man K’s/Joe’s hologram girlfriend “Joi” superimposed over a prostitute (herself a replicant) brought in as a surrogate sex partner for Joe, since Joi is not real. That scene was kind of trippy and funny, albeit in a twisted way, leaving me thinking “WTF?”
My younger sister, a graduate from film school at Vassar College, who loves the original Blade Runner, hated this new sequel. She agreed with me why, plus found it lacking in plot (“40 mins. worth, not almost 3 hours”) and the soundtrack often torturous (“noisy”). She didn’t go to the movie to watch a long, bad dream, as she put it. She found the leading man, who “wasn’t human” uninteresting. My reply to her here was: “Well, he was trying to be human.” I had grown up watching dear, dead-pan Spock on the original Star Trek, so I did my best to draw a parallel to him and B. R. 2049′s flat affect leading man. My sister was having none of it. And, honestly, a roughed up replicant cop without even a real name, placed in a warped future dystopia created by heterosexist white people who seemed to have taken a lot of drugs, is nowhere near as complex and likable as Science Officer Spock of the Starship Enterprise. I was really reaching there and my sister knew it.
I started out really caring about K (and whatever his numbers are that go with that letter)/”Joe,” but he became more removed and ultimately a bit pathetic for me by the end of the film. His efforts to find out who he really is– replicant vs. half replicant vs. maybe even fully human?– start out as worthwhile and admirable, but they end up feeling drawn-out and tedious, particularly as he gets more banged about as the film goes on, and on. Rather sad and tiring.
A metaphor I think of for this movie is having to peel away a thick layer of sludge to get to a tasty piece of cake to eat. Once I got to the cake, my appetite had been thrown off. I was rather numbed out by the end of the show, though the process of getting there was pretty steady as each scene progressed. Personally, I don’t go to the movies to numb out like that.
I’m glad I saw the film using a movie gift card.
It’s really too bad Blade Runner 2049 was made the way it was. It could have been great instead of sexist, misogynistic, heterosexist, racist, mind-numbing, and overly drawn-out.