THERE WILL BE SPOILERS ABOUT BLADE RUNNER 2049 IN THIS POST. WATCH THE MOVIE!
Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the seminal 1982 sci-fi movie directed by Ridley Scott.
The movie has largely been praised by critics, especially for its visual production. The Box office, however, has been less than spectacular. It has made $81 million domestically, and has been judged as a 'bomb' by Forbes.
I loved Blade Runner 2049, but it's not an easy watch. Over the years, we've been conditioned to expect Sci-Fi movies to be action spectaculars, inevitably building to a climatic 'boss battle' that shuts off the world-ending special effect (that is usually a light beaming randomly into the sky) with a huge explosion.
Blade Runner 2049 is not that. It's a slow burning detective story that conceals a reflection on human nature, and specifically, I think, the nature of men.
Very quickly after the movie was released, articles began to appear about how sexist it is. "Blade Runner 2049 has a woman problem" was the general consensus - "Women in the sci-fi sequel are either prostitutes, holographic housewives or they die brutal deaths that we are forced to watch in horrifying detail." And on the surface, it's true - the depictions of women are starkly awkward.
However, I think the idea behind Blade Runner 2049 was a deconstruction of the male-centric plot-line of most movies. Awkwardly, as we’re watching the deconstruction happen, much of this movie is taken up by our male protagonist working this out - meaning it appears misogynistic in itself.
Here's the general arc of the movie that I think shows this...
We start with the character K - a pretty typical protagonist in most male-centric movies - tough, isolated, internal, stoic under pressure, but able to fight and defeat much bigger opponents than him.
However, he discovers that a replicant may have had a baby, and, because he's the male protagonist, naturally assumes/hopes it’s him - after all, what chosen one isn’t the male? (thinks the audience of men).
As we follow him, we see his life -
He has a female boss (Lieutenant Joshi) who wants to/possibly has slept with him - she ‘doesn’t even remember he’s a replicant’ sometimes. He's so attractive and special that even a tough female boss finds him irresistible (he refuses her of course - because he really has the power.)
He has a programmable girlfriend (Joi) who is designed to be whatever he wants her to be. She repeatedly tells him he’s special. Gives him a name, "Joe" (the average...?). Encourages him that he must be the naturally born replicant/human.
This programmable girl gets another female replicant (Mariette) to sleep with K so they can be physically intimate - which is pitched as being her idea and desire at that time. (but we’ll later find out it is just part of her programming)
We can see that his whole world is shaped around him.
As the quest goes on, we’re led to think that he will be the chosen one.
Then, when we get to Las Vegas there are, yes, huge naked women statues, but they are crumbling and abandoned. Relics. (I thought of the poem 'Ozymandias' when I saw them - a monument to an era that is in the past.)
I don’t think It’s a mistake that it’s in Las Vegas, among these crumbling icons to sexism, that K learns that this story isn’t about him at all.
The female leader of the rebellion tells him It’s about a female child. His involvement was just a glitch.
It’s also in Las Vegas that his 'fulfil all his wishes’ girlfriend is destroyed.
Later, when he sees an advert for the Joi hologram again, (the giant naked purple hologram) she uses the same words as his Joi did, and I think he realises that she was never a real woman. He never had a real relationship. He recognises his shortcomings and, at this point, is ready to die for the cause of the actual important character - a human/replicant born female.
So, I think it’s fairly crudely done, but I think it’s a film that says about men - it’s not about you. The hope of the world lies with a woman.
The end is obscure, because the actual chosen one has been secreted away and is never released - I would like to have seen Deckard release his daughter from the cell she’s been in all these years - but I assume that it is her release will spark the revolution.
That was my reflection on it. I’m not sure it was very successful, but would love to hear your thoughts!