Life Without a Soul (Blade Runner 2049, 2017)
It is 35 years since the first Blade Runner. Agent K is a blade Runner and also a modern replicant. He is given a mission after the bones of a replicant are found that indicate she died in childbirth. Replicants should be unable to conceive, let alone carry a child to term.
K’s human boss wants him to find the child and kill it. But things become complicated when he finds evidence that his false implant memories may be real, leading to the question of whether K is the mysterious child of Deckard and Rachel (Sean Young’s Replicant from the original film).
Further problems arise when we find that Niander Wallace, who has profited off the failure of the Tyrell Corporation and become the leading force of Replicant and digital A.I. technology, is also looking for the child. The one thing that has eluded him has been the ability for replicants to reproduce. He sees this as a key component in their evolution (well, most everyone does).
The films is visually stunning. The neon dreams that fill the city, the holographic girlfriend Joi (showing both K’s isolation as a Blade Runner and Replicant and his desire to connect), the desolate Las Vegas…every shot in this film feels like independent artworks.
The ending gives the audience just enough to be satisfying without wrapping everything up in a neat little package.
Not playing coy about K’s identity as a replicant is something that gives the film strength. In one scene, K expresses a concern about killing something “born” to his superior Lieutenant Joshi. He notes that being born implies there is a soul there. Joshi sends him off with the cold note that he has gotten along fine without a soul. I am trying to determine if it is a problem for me that Joi is probably one of the most sympathetic beings in the entire film. But I suspect director Denis Villeneuve would like to hear that. By and large, the Replicants are the center of the show here. Luv, Wallace’s right hand, is downright terrifying.
Villeneuve has given the audience a beautiful and captivating film.