WASHINGTON, October 8, 2017 — Director Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” came with a slew of messages: It was part homage to the 1940s, hard-nosed film noir detective; an agitprop ode to alarmist environmentalism; and a forewarning of the dangers posed by powerful, fast-thinking, artificially intelligent, bio-engineered human replicants, which are indistinguishable from weak, slow-witted, humans.
But it’s the topic of mortality that is the film’s most interesting theme. That’s because the replicants of this tale are designed to have short, four-year lifespans.
“It’s quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it,” askes replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) as he threatens Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
“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 at Tannhaüser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain … time to die.”
Unlike the insubordinate Lucifer of John Milton’s divine poem “Paradise Lost,” the rebellious Roy Batty of the secular “Blade Runner” confronts his maker, Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), and kills him.
With no replicant heaven (or hell) to look forward to, the fuming Batty condemns his creator to the same dark, secular oblivion that awaits his creations.
Ridley Scott’s bio-android’s rage against the dying of the light by vindictively slaughtering their way into that good night.
Ironically, it’s Blade Runner Deckard who teaches the latest, longer-life Nexus 8 replicant and object of his desires, Rachael (Sean Young), that the only light in their empty universe, the only reason to live, is to love and be loved.
In “Blade Runner 2049,” the ponderous, visually stunning sequel to the 1982 classic, Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling) continues where Harrison Ford left off; hunting replicants with extreme prejudice.
But K, ironically, is a replicant himself and an obedient member of the L.A.P.D., whose rank-and-file officers are not at all shy to throw the epithet “skin job” K’s way.
But something interesting happens while K is on assignment to “retire” a replicant protein farmer named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista).
“How does it feel killing your own kind?” asks Morton.
“I don’t retire my own kind because we don’t run,” answers K. “Only older models do.”
“You newer models aren’t worth shit, cause you’ve never seen a miracle.”
Although the lumbering Morton puts up a respectable Incredible Hulk defense, a battered K eventually guns him down.
With the help of his flying vehicle’s drone, K discovers a container buried near a tree outside the farmer’s home.
It contains a box of bones.
Later, the medical examiner discovers the body to be that of a female replicant who died during childbirth.
This doesn’t sit well with K’s boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) who, Hillary Clinton-like, delivers what comes across as a soulless defense of abortion.
“That’s not possible. She was a replicant—pregnant,” says a shocked Joshi. “The world is built on a wall. It separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you’ve bought a war or a slaughter. So, what you saw, didn’t happen.”
“Yes, madam,” says K obediently.
“It is my job to keep order,” says Joshi coldly. “That’s what we do here, we keep order.”
“You want it gone?” K asks.
K looks slightly surprised, “Even the child?”
“All trace. Do you have anything more to say?”
It’s clear K is having moral qualms, “I’ve never retired something that was born before.”
“What’s the difference?” asks Joshi.
“To be born is to have a soul, I guess,” declares K the moralist.
Joshi’s eyes narrow, “Are you telling me no?”
“I wasn’t aware that was an option, ma’am.”
Joshi’s eyes sparkle, “Ata-boy. Hey, you’ve been getting on fine without one.”
K has a quizzical look, “What’s that, ma’am?”
This is the only interesting scene proceeding K’s protracted hunt for the replicant-human hybrid.
What this spinoff lacks in plot it more than makes up for in extremely loud and menacing music, which tramples upon the film’s sparse flashes of dialogue.
And the movie’s all-to-short action sequences only serve to punctuate the film’s deliriously lengthy travel scenes, with characters staring silently at one another or into space.
Sadly, “Blade Runner 2049” is a half-hour plot strapped to a medieval rack and tortuously stretched into a two hour and forty-three-minute feature film.
“Blade Runner 2049” is currently in theaters nationwide.