The Editress and I screened Blade Runner 2049 soon enough that we avoided exposure to spoilers per the advice of someone who saw it even earlier. I have no intention of including such here. The film was a presentation of depth on a scale still seeming slow to fully assimilate days later. Worth encountering for fans of 1982’s origin property, the film is not to be entered lightly. I have little doubt its returns, financial and otherwise, will be of a longer term than perhaps its studios initially anticipated.
But this is not a movie review. As always, the waters run deeper here.
Surface impressions are the draw of a product. Less evident themes, I suspect, comprise its payload. Some of those might be intentional and others not, possibly included through darker inspiration to which the world has been subject since the minds of men and women in antiquity first encountered voices divine and despairing.
The film is, partially at least, an exploration of the nature of humanity as a designator of achievement rather than mere classification. Replicants, the artificial yet sentient beings of the franchise, are portrayed in this latest installment as sometimes displaying the virtue to a greater extent than presumably biological characters.
With that stage being set, dialogue later speculates on the nature of the soul as existentially bestowed only to products of reproduction rather than biotechnology. As such, possessing the hope of being something more is resented by engineered beings craving the same validation as any of us. By implication, humanity, being embraced by sentience following circumstantial and self-development, is presented as the superior condition. This is the point, for me at least, where the most subtle secular messaging of the movie begins to emerge.
Segue from the previous film includes the acquisition of the formerly dominant Tyrell Corporation, commercial creators and engineers of the Replicants, by the developer of synthetic food production Niander Wallace. Credited with preserving humanity in the wake of multiple environmental disasters, the character’s portrayal as the savior of humankind is messianic enough to evoke a physical resemblance to Jesus in the actor cast. I doubt this was an accident, for reasons we’ll explore next.
Wallace is projected as an intelligent, cruel, visionary pragmatist utterly unconcerned with the moral responsibilities of producing the sentient creations emerging from his product development. He’s set against K, the current-generation replicant protagonist, with the resultant, problematic premise being that the creation has evolved to a higher moral condition than its creator.
The corporatist, posturing as a deity to his synthetic life forms, in one soliloquy expounds on the historical need for slaves—such as is his business to create—as necessary to project and preserve the power of empires. The theme of Cartesian resistance to an unloving, malevolent, manipulative creator runs throughout the remainder of the experience. It’s not the first work to emerge from a resentful, myopic, spiritually dangerous, egotistic, and insular perspective assessing our role and perceiving our stratum in the natural order as being oppressed subjects of divine tyranny, should it acknowledge our Creator at all.
Being that Blade Runner 2049 was a product of Hollywood, it ought to be approached cautiously from a Christian standpoint. The town, as the recent kerfuffle surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein aptly illustrates, is hardly possessed of a culture discerning people would find edifying or superversive.
Humanity, in its taxonomical context, may judge itself as a pinnacle rather than a portfolio. Doing so adopts a false premise that, as always, cannot be successfully rehabilitated except by starting over, lest its devotees extend its unbalanced folly to disastrous systemic collapse. The process is insidious enough to take a lifetime, because the enemy is supernaturally patient when making continual progress in the deluded.
So what do we do with the movie? Despite what in the opinion of the Editress is overthinking the film, I don’t regret the experience and will probably end up owning a copy. As an effort of cinematography it is beautiful, and the storyline revitalizes and extends the dystopian backdrop of its lead-in. The first Blade Runner is one of our most viewed favorites here. Its follow-up, likewise a product of the time and culture that produced the thing, might exceed the original in its presentation and extent, if not the validity of what it is trying to say. Decide those things for yourself.
We Christians are commissioned ministers of faith to the world, a blessing precluding domination by—or fear of—worldly influences. Encountering or observing the gradient of wretchedness in fallen surroundings doesn’t equate to embracing, affiliating with, or endorsing the same. We by grace are greater than these things crossing our path.
Sometimes a movie is just a movie. What one will take away from Blade Runner 2049 depends on one’s capacity and vision, as with everything.
Choose to love, -DA
In production news, Novel10/Sean4, The Yemeni Package, is at midpoint in production editing. The USAF’s taciturn vessel for opportune karma is projected to appear again with his associated supporting cast in January 2018, with another installment of Sean’s File, the back-story responsible for building a man named Daniel Sean Ritter.