blade runner 2049

 

BLADE RUNNER” STYLISH BLEAK FUTURE; “SEAL TEAM” ON TV

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

BLADE RUNNER 2049 (Rated R)  A sequel to a cult favorite and ground-breaking science-fiction film that comes thirty-five years later suggests that insightful considerations are absolutely necessary to understanding the trajectory of the “Blade Runner” cultural significance. First, we need to look back to the original “Blade Runner” and its pioneering of an entirely new cultural genre that might be described as “neo-noir cyberpunk,” an existential state that captures a bleak dystopian future.

 The sequel arrives with “Blade Runner 2049,” and its director Denis Villeneuve, observing that the source material was a blending of the two genres of science fiction and film noir, aims for the surreal atmospheric existence of a defiled universe. While it is not absolutely essential to have seen the original, it helps to know that Harrison Ford starred as a former blade runner named Rick Deckard who came out of retirement to track down and terminate four fugitive replicants that escaped from an off-world colony. Deckard was reluctant to take on the job of hunting the life-like robots, but over the course of completing his mission he met and fell in love with Rachael, a beautiful, young woman who turned out to be a replicant.

Fast forward to thirty years later in “Blade Runner 2049,” and Ryan Gosling plays the role of an LAPD blade runner named K who oddly enough has difficulty with memories of his childhood to the extent that he starts to question his humanity. But “Blade Runner 2049” has much to do with the conflict between humanity and technology, and the intersection of the two manifest themselves in Officer K’s home life where his only companion is Joi (Ana de Armas), who materializes as a life-like hologram. As a result of tracking down an old-model replicant (Dave Bautista) living off-the-grid as a protein farmer, Officer K unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge an already dysfunctional society into a permanent state of chaos and ruin. 

Consequently, Officer K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Deckard, the former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years and wants to very much remain hidden at his lonely outpost in a decimated Las Vegas where only a flickering image of Elvis provides a human presence. The future world of “Blade Runner 2049” is so bleak that you may be fascinated to learn that the climate of sunny Los Angeles has been so drastically changed that the average days are often more like the harsh, snowy conditions of Chicago in January. 

Atmosphere and visual style are the two things that create a most compelling landscape in the environmentally degraded surroundings of a toxic wasteland.  The bleak aesthetics are fascinating and make this film interesting to watch. “Blade Runner 2049” is full of intriguing characters, including industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) who’s pulling the strings with his genetic engineering and Robin Wright’s tormenting police captain.  Revealing too many details about these compelling players would be unwise.

To his credit, director Villeneuve has preserved and enhanced the strong image of what Ridley Scott, director of the original film, presented as a disturbing future that could be at the same time so seductive and frightening. The dreary, desolate landscape and harsh realities of existence in “Blade Runner 2049” may not appeal to everyone, but it may fascinate the aficionados of a grim science-fiction realm.

“SEAL TEAM” ON CBS NETWORK

Military-themed series are popping up on several network schedules this fall, but “SEAL Team” running on CBS television seems like the best fit for this type of drama and the core audience that taps into the top-rated network’s penchant for safe, dependable programming. We already know that Navy SEALs are an elite military fighting force, often engaged in the most dangerous and critical missions.  After all, they were the squadron that took down Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan compound.

This new drama series centers on David Boreanaz’s commanding role of Captain Jason Hayes in a tight-knit team that is seen in the first episode in a gunboat firefight with ISIL forces.  But this show is about a lot more than just military operations.The stress of war has taken a great toll on Jason.  He’s estranged from his wife and children.  Losing a colleague in combat is just as devastating as the death of any family member.  During the summer TV press tour, Boreanaz observed that “SEAL Team” is a “workplace show” and that his character has to “deal with his own inner turmoil” and the complexity of his personal life.  Combat missions are important to the series, but not the end-all. 

 “SEAL Team” consists of a solid ensemble of actors, from Jessica Pare as a CIA liaison involved in mission planning to Neil Brown, Jr. as Jason’s trusted teammate.  Boreanaz’s Captain Hayes may inspire many to follow him into battle during the run of this series.