I recently read an article that claimed ‘Blade Runner 2049 is a misogynistic mess’. As an avid film fan – and as a woman – this bold statement made me feel uneasy. And despite being a less than avid science fiction fan, but a feminist, I instantly disagreed. Here’s why:
- The majority of the film’s supporting characters are women who are fierce, brave, intelligent and in control, including Robin Wright who is quite literally the superior to Ryan Gosling’s K. Wright’s character meets a fate that is certainly dark and grisly but it feels, significantly, under her own terms as she works to protect a secret.
- The fundamental narrative for the film is based on a startling discovery by the renamed Tyrell Corporation described as a ‘miracle’ which a character from the first film, Rachael – basically the answer to the development of a decaying civilisation – , is responsible for.
- Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace has a female replicant assistant known as Luv (Sylvia Hoeks). Luv is way beyond average in combat and fiercely loyal. She is also the most feared character in the film and makes for a terrifying opponent to K and Deckard. Like legit, she is mega scary. Luv‘s character is also much more developed than Leto’s Wallace, and the real antagonist of the film.
- There is a pending replicant uprising against the humans and, you guessed it, it’s being helmed by a woman who commands respect and holds authority.
Women do play roles in Blade Runner 2049 which are challenging, and the film delivers a bleak and unpleasant look at the future, but for both sexes. And isn’t a bleak and unsettling dystopian future the point of Blade Runner? This new world is shown with such visual mastery at such an involving level you can’t help but believe it’s all real. I think to call this sequel misogynistic is to do the film, and the point of the role women play within the film, a disservice. Also, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis and Carla Juri are all exceptional. There is obvious imagery of the female body as spectacle, but it’s not gratuitous, and the sheer scale of the visuals are placed to make you gasp in awe rather than horror.
Villeneuve has created a superior modern day movie that looks not too far into the future in intricate detail, provided by master cinematographer Roger Deakins. From giant set pieces to revolutionary visual effects, the Californian landscape created in Blade Runner 2049 is an absolute vision to behold. Looks aside, there’s a hair-raising score of dreams provided by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch and genre fans will revel in it. The film is 163 minutes of gold and must be seen in the cinema. Perhaps too long, but beguiling enough to keep its audience tuned in.
To perceive Blade Runner 2049 as misogynistic is to misunderstand its intentions. And to misunderstand its intentions as a piece of world class cinema would be a shame. Villeneuve has made something so special here from a piece of filmmaking that was already revered so highly, and cemented himself as a true auteur in the process. See it, love it, and don’t overthink it.