I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.”
― Jorge Luis Borges
Bladerunner 2049 features visually stunning images of a dystopian not so diverse Los Angeles; a city of lights, shadows, flying vehicles and teeming with life that may or not be human. Although actual humans are supposed to be rare, the construction of male and female gender roles
are set way back in the Old West starring Ryan Gosling as a bladerunner and Harrison Ford as former blade runner Rick Deckard. Deckard has been missing for thirty years and Gosling tracks him down when he starts to believe he could possibly be his father. Along the way there are a number of prostitutes and a woman, Luv played by Sylvia Hoeks so viciously cruel she almost kills Gosling as he makes his way to find the man he thinks may be his father when he starts to believe he may actually be human. There is also Gosling’s love interest Ana De Armas who is Cuban by birth and stars as Joi, a malleable visual projection who caters to his every whim and desires and hovers over him like a doting ghost. Unlike real life and the actual diverse present day city that is Los Angeles, the futuristic Los Angeles is mainly made up of very homegenous characters.
As for the storyline, I appreciated the many layers of meaning beneath the representation of what it means to be human. Who is a replicant and what does it mean to be subhuman and a programmed robot? Director Villeneuve takes us on a spiraling story with a slow developing plot to find out the truth. In our post-modern society we are becoming a society where the real is with more rapid frequency being substituted with ideas, commercialization and media that replaces it. Given that artificial intelligence is set to take the center stage in coming years, I enjoyed the slow development the writers of the the film decided to take the audience on in this almost two hour epic film, questioning the humanity of the main character the Bladerunner.
With its stylistic, and breathtaking cinematography thanks to the work of Roger Deakins the film from a visual standpoint is an exquisite masterpiece. Although, post-modern LA could use a life saving injection of characters of color and women who play characters that are not just objectified. It is fascinating that Bladerunner 2049 ultimately is not able to answer its own question about humanity because it fails to represent the diversity and women in a more dynamic way. Villeneuve mentions in an interview that “he can’t pin down a definite reason for the soft Blade Runner box office, he did throw out a few possible suggestions. Villeneuve mentioned that the movie is doing well in Europe, and also did well in big cities in the United States, implying that perhaps unsophisticated rural American audiences simply didn’t get his movie.” I think he completely misses the mark that our society now is more diverse than it has ever been and that actors and filmmakers of color are leading the way. As the poet Borges has written we are all of the people we have met, yet when they lack diversity it really can be felt. Overall it is a worthwhile watch just for the journey into Deakins world of color, light and shadows and to ponder the question of whether we really exist in this post-modern reality that is Los Angeles, 2049.