Film: "Blade Runner 2049; Director: Denis Villeneuve; Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis Carli Juri, Lennie James, Dave Baustista, Jared Leto; Rating: *1/2
Do yourself a favour. Run away from "Blade Runner 2049" as far as you can while you still have time. It is one of the most pretentious and ponderous sequels ever, with thinly disguised dialogues taken from messages from fortune cookies masquerading as words of wounded wisdom that civilisation, particularly American civilisation, has discovered while sharing meals with Willy Wonka.
The film is almost three hours of talking plodding tedium with characters who are either manufactured by genetical manipulations and are known as replicants (more like repellents), or are real human beings inscribed with robotic tendencies. Ryan Gosling, one of civilisation's most overrated actors, is unable to determine till the end whether he is real or virtual. Does anyone really care?
Gosling occupies most of the film's cumbersome playing-time. He is presumably a replicant -- or is he? The entire film is about Gosling's search for his identity. The search for self is like Kubrick-meets-Kafka's ghost-on-a-sullen-unexciting-night.
What happened to all the fun and the ravishing action scenes from the first "Blade Runner" film in 1982? There isn't even one spectacularly-staged action sequence in the new edition of "Blade Runner". The entire reined-in velocity of "Blade Runner 2049" hinges on Gosling's character and his search of an identity which takes him from one depressing location to another. Los Angeles looks like it has seen better days. Harrison Ford is dunked into gushing water at the end. He too must wonder at what civilisation has come to since he last played a Blade.
Ford can still make every frame featuring him look inviting. Gosling seems to have lost his screen presence in "La La Land". Here this time around, he is stilted and unsure trying to make sense of a crisis that no one quite comprehends, let alone appreciates.
Unforgiveably, the very charismatic Harrison Ford appears after almost two-thirds of the film is over. By then, the narrative so weighed down by its own philosophical posturings, it would need more than Ford to revive our interest. The asininity that the screenplay inflicts on all the actors big or small is cognisable. Some appear more wronged than others as they stand around mouthing dialogues that sound like Kangana Ranaut's pearls of wisdom carried to an extreme of self-absorption.
Jared Leto, who appears with blind lenses, is an unintentional caricature with his megalomaniacal take on civilisation's accelerated ambitions to populate the galaxy with artificial genetics. He mouths the film's lofty aspirations with platitudinous pomposity, igniting what looks like a conflict to save humanity. It is actually nothing more than a collage of disembodied images accentuating one man's pursuit of legitimacy and another man's (the director's) search for immortality.
Shockingly, the film's epic design never rises beyond a show of contoured bleakness. The film is shot at landscapes that suggest apocalyptic upheavals as imagined by an art director who has his head too deeply buried in the sands to know that beyond the bleakness that civilisation imagines for itself in the coming decades, there is another reality whereby humanity searches for survival with dignity.
"Blade Runner 2049" offers no hope to humankind. Forget redeeming civilisation, it can't even retrieve Harrison Ford's character from the original film without falling into paroxysm of puerility. As for Ryan Gosling, his relationship with his virtual housemate (Anna De Armas) reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson in "Her".
A few day before I saw this monstrously disappointing sequel, I saw an Indian television journalist fawning over Ryan Gosling at an interview conducted in Barcelona. The journalist gushed over Gosling and let him know that India has numerous Gosling fans dying to meet him. Who are these fans? After "Blade Runner 2049", the affable but weighed-down actor would not have many fans to make him feel about his ambitions.
Watch Gosling in "A Blue Valentine" instead. Or better still watch our film "Tu Hai Mera Sunday" to see how heartwarming the depiction of metropolitan angst can be when applied to lives that are prone to rise above their woeful destiny. In "Blade Runner 2049", the characters love their misery and nullity so much they make our future look not just bleak but also banal.