If you read the reviews of “Blade Runner 2049,” it should have been a great movie. The huge problem with this movie is that while it’s visually engaging, it’s emotionally empty. The basic structure of any tory is that we must know what the hero wants from an emotional level. In “Star Wars,” Luke feels trapped on his uncle’s farm and longs for an adventure. In “Up,” the old man loses his wife and acts grumpy about life. In “The Karate Kid,” a kid gets uprooted and placed in a strange neighborhood so he feels alone and isolated.
In good movies, we understand how the hero is and what he or she wants right away. More importantly, we understand emotionally what they want because we can feel that same emotion. That’s why good romantic comedies work so well because everyone wants to find true love. That’s also why action movies can work if they rely less on action and more on emotion. In “Die Hard,” the hero wants to get back with his wife, so he’s willing to admit he’s the reason they broke up in the first place. In all those poor “Die Hard” sequels, there’s mostly action and little emotion, which makes them less engaging.
In “Blade Runner 2049,” who know who the hero is (a blade runner in charge of hunting down rogue androids), but we don’t know what he wants. Every story has two goals for the hero:
- A physical goal
- An emotional goal
The hero in “Blade Runner 2049” has a physical goal of finding out the original of a mysterious body buried near a dead tree. However, the hero has no emotional goal. What does he want? Because we don’t know, the ending fails to satisfy us emotionally because there is no emotion. The whole movie is mostly interesting because of its visual sets, not because of the story.
Here’s another flaw. At one point, the hero goes to San Diego where some people knock his flying car down and attack him. Who are these people? We don’t know. They just pop up long enough to cause trouble and disappear just as quickly. At another point, the villain captures the character played by Harrison Ford while leaving the hero behind. Why did they let the hero go? Just as suddenly, supporters of the androids rescue the hero right after the villain beats him up and leaves him. Where did these android supporters come from and how did they know where he was? (The hero was supposed to be in a deserted Las Vegas where nobody lives.)
“Blade Runner 2049” lacks an emotional depth and substitutes a coherent story with the hero jumping from one place to another. Instead of telling us a story, the movie seems more intent on showing us yet another setting of the future without telling us why this setting is important to the story.
“Blade Runner 2049” is a visually interesting movie that lacks a coherent and engaging story. As a result, it’s no surprise that audiences stayed away from it. Partially it’s due to its length (almost three hours) and partially it’s because it ultimately has no story to tell. It’s a muddled, confused mess that emphasizes visual settings over story, and as a result, it fails as a movie despite its wonderful visuals.