Sometimes, it takes more than one viewing to truly appreciate and understand a movie.
You have to sit through more than one showing and see things you did not see before. It also allows you to come away with a greater appreciation of the film.
“Blade Runner 2049” is one of those movies.
I saw it when it first came out. It is a truly stunning movie visually. When I first saw it, I got caught up in the visual.
Denis Villeneuve is a great director who used the fullness of what can be done with the visual bells and whistles available. His work with Roger Deakins (the film’s director of photography) is going to be remembered at Oscar time.
But it was on that second viewing that I came away with a new appreciation of the story. So, what did I discover this time?
“Blade Runner 2049” is a Christmas movie.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment. I want to be clear. It is not like a Hallmark Christmas movie, but it qualifies as a Christmas movie.
What do I mean that this is a Christmas movie? The story is about the discovery and coming of the messiah. And the way that the messiah comes is as fantastic as the story of the coming of Jesus.
First, the story begins with the declaration that a miracle occurred.
Ryan Gosling is K, a blade runner whose job is to find and eliminate replicants. Replicants are bioengineered androids that were used when space exploration expanded to other planets.
The replicants look and act human in every way, but there is a belief they are dangerous and have been outlawed. K is a replicant, so he goes out and kills his own kind.
K discovers where a replicant named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) is living. Knowing that K is there to kill him, Morton asks K if he has ever seen a miracle.
The miracle is that a replicant from the first movie, “Blade Runner,” had a baby with a human. This birth is like unto the virgin birth of Mary and what it signals to the world is as earth-shaking as Jesus’ birth was.
Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), K’s boss, tells him his job is to eliminate everything that has to do with this. Kill the child is the order.
Joshi believes that if knowledge of this child comes to light, the wall between humans and replicants will crumble and there will be chaos and death.
Also aware of this child is Niander Wallace. He wants to begin making new replicants, which is outlawed.
Wallace believes possessing the child would give him the needed edge to blackmail those who do not want replicants to exist.
One other group wants to find the child. These are the replicants themselves. They see the child as a messiah for them, who will lead them out of the shadows of hiding into the light of acceptability.
The story is told from the perspective of K. It plays out like a film noir detective story.
K moves from place to place, gathering clues to the child’s whereabouts. Along the way, he involves the child’s father, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Deckard has abandoned the child for the child’s safety. He has not seen it.
The reason why I think of this as a Christmas movie is that it plays out like the story of the birth of the Messiah found in Matthew.
The focus on Matthew is on Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. The focus here is on the father of the child, Deckard.
Herod learns of the birth of the Messiah and wants to find the child for his own ambition. Wallace learns of the child and wants to find it for his own ambition.
And I think of K as being like a magi. He keeps searching for the child as a means of justifying his own existence. Finding the miracle will make all his life’s suffering meaningful.
I loved the movie with both viewings. It is a wonder of sight and sound, but also of mind, with apologies to Rod Serling.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick
Cast: Ryan Gosling (K), Dave Bautista (Sapper Morton), Robin Wright (Lieutenant Joshi), Jared Leto (Niander Wallace), Harrison Ford (Rick Deckard).
The movie’s website is here.