Tears in Rain

Grand new 'Blade Runner' glistens

August and quiet, violent and occasionally full of pity, Blade Runner 2049 overwhelms: it’s a technical juggernaut, orchestrated to the bone-rattling sonics of Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch like the sound of some giant rubbing a pair of ocean liners together.

Director Denis Villenueve blends the solemnity of Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and the studied blandness of Stanley Kubrick with the same lack of dynamism he demonstrated in Arrival. The movie has very little running in it, but the soundscapes will keep people from drowsing, as Ryan Gosling—playing K, a synthetic cop—doubles-down on his minimalism in Drive.

Reprising his role as Deckard, a welcome Harrison Ford brings humanity to a movie peopled with grim synthetics. It’s been some 30 years since Deckard and Rachel (Sean Young) sensibly escaped L.A. and headed north. The sunless megalopolis has grown in vastness and darkness, the streets now about as wide as airshafts. It rains white ash; seawalls attempt to keep monsoons at bay.

K untangles the mystery of a box of bones found buried at the farmhouse of a dead replicant (Dave Bautista). These bones are the relics of a miraculous android. K’s cold, hard-drinking superior (Robin Wright) wants to know more. So does the omniscient replicant maker Niander Wallace (Jared Leto).

K investigates among the tsunami-wrecked ruins of San Diego, and goes deep in the desert, with dust storms, coppery light and giant nude statues—happily for some, the year 2049 looks like Burning Man.On K’s side is the helpful Joi (Ana De Armas), both Suri and electronic courtesan.

The film’s women are knowing and strong. They taunt the beaten up, past-haunted K. It’s a future-verse of femme fatales. The odd thing is that it’s all more grand than threatening. The misanthropy-prone geek bros won’t know what hit them.

‘Blade Runner 2049’ opens in wide release in the North Bay.