The sci-fi classic “Blade Runner” is beloved — and rightly so — not just for its compelling narrative of the lonely hunter, but for the package that the futuristic fable came wrapped in. Based on a 1968 novel by Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott’s 1982 film was notable for its screenplay of oblique, muscular poetry (by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples); a cynical and gorgeously gloomy film noir sensibility; and philosophical musings about what it means to be human.
“Blade Runner 2049,” the superb new sequel by Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), doesn’t just honor that legacy, but, arguably, surpasses it, with a smart, grimly lyrical script (by Fancher and Michael Green of the top-notch “Logan”); bleakly beautiful cinematography (by Roger Deakins); and an even deeper dive into questions of the soul.
Set 30 years after the action of the first film, “2049” focuses, like Scott’s tale, on a blade runner: a cop whose mission it is to track down and “retire” bioengineered humanoid “replicants” that were once used as slave labor — “skinners,” or “skin jobs,” in the parlance of the film — and who have since gone on the lam after being found to disobey orders. In the world of 2049, there are now two kinds of replicants, in addition to people: the old, rogue versions, and a newer, more subservient variety designed by a godlike industrialist (Jared Leto), who refers to his products, tellingly, as good and bad “angels.”
One key character isn’t even real, at least not in the traditional sense, but a hologram.
When we first meet the film’s L.A.P.D. hero, called K (Ryan Gosling), he is on the job, a routine assignment that might be considered an assassination if the target of his lethal mission were human, or his cause unethical. And…