We go back to the future and it looks darker than ever in the new flick from Denis Villeneuve who has already shown a penchant for science fiction dramas like Arrival. Running 30 years after the first film, it follows a similar premise of super human slaves (replicants) being forcibly “retired” after being subordinated to off world colonies.
In the original, Harrison Ford was our title character and found himself falling for the very thing that he was trying to destroy. Such dilemmas about the extent to which our emotions define us coupled with the manipulative power that we exercise over lesser beings is again explored, with the exception that our man on a mission is K (Ryan Gosling). Inconceivable as it is, the possibility that replicants can procreate leads K to question his own identity and seek one Rick Deckard who is presumed dead (in The Force Awakens fashion, Ford’s appearance is highly anticipated and yet tokenistic in nature).
Visually the post-modern, post-apocalyptic universe is as stunning as the 1982 version, with the wasteland meticulously constructed. Everything from the hollow, holographic prostitutes to the reference to San Diego being the dumping ground for Los Angeles reminds us that capitalism’s thrust on the environment will lead to absolute destruction. Where this becomes painful is just how long each shot and sequence drags on for reasons none other than to bask in the cinematography of Roger Deakins (Skyfall).
Gosling holds his own as an agent seeking a purpose other than law enforcement in already morally depraved world, and his assurance that keeping order even in the face of contradicting data and shaky status quos from Robin Wright’s Lt. Joshi remind us that power is masked by fear. These and other lessons are more timely than ever, yet the pace is stunted by the run time that nearly clocks three hours so that by the time the world order is usurped, we’re rooting for Wallace Corporation’s CEO Jared Leto to set us back on track.
More human than the sequel, with enough nuts and bolts for the rusty bits.