One of the weird misconceptions about the original Blade Runner is that it takes place in a dystopian Los Angeles. Sure, things are pretty dimly lit and there does appear to be a lot of rain, but it actually seems like a relatively nice city. Most parts are pedestrian-friendly; the presence of flying cars means that gridlock and rush hour have been at least somewhat ameliorated.
The sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is another attempt to pass the torch from Harrison Ford to a new generation. We’ve so far failed to have him annoint Shia LaBeouf as the successor to Indiana Jones and had him exit Star Wars at the hands of Adam Driver. Now Ryan Gosling will maybe-replace Ford’s Deckard, replicant retirer extraordinaire.
The latest trailer for Blade Runner 2049 seems to answer a question a lot of people have asked about the original: Is Deckard a replicant? Gosling steps over a tripwire walking into whatever Los Angeleno architectural masterpiece has been repurposed by director Denis Villeneuve to serve as a retired cop’s apartment. Oh and we also get a possibly blind Jared Leto creepily birthing robots. Fun all around! Seriously, it looks like Oscar Isaac’s Ex Machina character gained some hair and lost his eyesight. Weird vibes.
Here’s the major question we still need answered: The original Blade Runner was about the possibility that mechanization would make humans obsolete. If replicants were bigger, stronger, faster and thought of themselves as people, what do we have left? Currently, surveillance and the survival of the planet seem like much more pressing concerns. Sure, humanity is in question, but it’s more likely our personalities are uploaded to the cloud than we get replaced by literal robots. Director Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival was a meditation on language and time that felt at times a little too much like a jewel box. Blade Runner has more muscular roots and less time for theorizing.
Will this sequel work? Or will it fall victim to the same things that plagued Prometheus: Over-reliance on beauty and a ultimate irrelevance and poor plotting?
This trailer, at least, looks promising.