Movie Review : Blade Runner - Black Out 2022 (2017)
No one in their right mind should've made a sequel to Blade Runner, one of the most important genre movies ever created. It's one of these perfect things, you know? A movie that aged so well, rewatching it thirty years later still feels gratifying. But here we are. Twenty-four hours away from the release of Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 and we're all giddy like spoiled little juvenile delinquents on a vandalism tear. And the movie looks fucking great too. Did you know there's a new 15 minutes anime, directed by Mr. Cowboy Bebop Shinichiro Watanabe himself, that bridges the gap between both movies? And you can watch that bad boy online now to get yourself riled up. Do it and come back to this review, so we can discuss Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 together.
So, the story of Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 is simple and to the point. The Nexus-6 androids have been retired, but the stronger, smarter and sturdier Nexus-8 models have taken their place and created a full-blown panic. Humans have declared a witch hunt on Nexus-8 androids, using a registry to find them and retire them on sight, which created a strong resistance movement among the replicants. Iggy (Jovan Jackson) and Trixie (Luci Christian) are replicants on the dangerous (and perhaps lethal) mission of destroying the data center which hosts the replicant registry. Success would mean several replicants could blend peacefully in the population... aaaaaand quite possibly complete chaos.
There's an obvious political reading to Blade Runner : Black Out 2022. The replicant registry, while it might've existed in the original movie (I don't remember), is the main focus of this animated Blade Runner interlude and mirrors the Muslim registry that...ugh...president Donald Trump promised during his campaign. It sure it a brave statement to make, but it's not what interested me in Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 and I'm sure it's not what interested Shinichiro Watanabe either because the movie spends a whopping 28 seconds on unpacking that idea. This is merely a starting point to Watanabe's musing as to what kind of society a registry like this would create.
Not only the replicants are oppressed by a terrified population, but they are hunted and "retired" in horrific ways. So, they start going off script in order to survive and create a resistance movement, which is something you usually see in war zones. That is what great science fiction is all about : extrapolating terrifying contemporary ideas and developing the world their systematic application implies. Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 doesn't exactly challenge any issues raised by the original movie. It doesn't even offer a full character arc. What it does is sneakier and more clever than that: it contextualizes its ideas to another generation. Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 simple, spectacular, but not thoughtless approach will help you appreciate the original better.
Blade Runner 2049 is upon us and I'm convince it'll be awesome it its own unique and entertaining way. The world imagined by Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott and now Denis Villeneuve is complex and nuanced, though and would require some easing up into for people who are less familiar with it. Shinichiro Watanabe's Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 recontextualizes xenophobia and the struggle of replicants in the Trump era without ever delving into a ridiculous political statement. I mean, Blade Runner : Black Out 2022 is fucking free and it's going to rile you up for Blade Runner 2049, what more do you want? Go watch the fucking thing, I barely scraped the surface in this review. Ah, hell. Here it is. Now you have no excuse not to watch it.