Many science fiction stories focus around the idea of artificial intelligence, and then taking it a step further by creating artificial humans. Well known and recent examples include the hosts in Westworld and the synths in Fallout 4 and Ava in Ex Machina. Inevitably questions arise as to whether these thinking machines could be- or are- as human as humans themselves. Of all the above listed examples, the Hollywood granddaddy of the cyberpunk sci-fi genre that captivated audiences for 30 years, could very well be considered the progenitor of all that has come since, Ridley Scott’’s Blade Runner.
Some movies are so revered by critics and fans that the very idea of sequels is unimaginable. But director Denis Villeneuve – and Harrison Ford- took the gamble and now we have Blade Runner 2049 (because round numbers are boring I suppose) (Also, why are the Replicant hunters called ‘’blade runners’’, does it just sound cool?).
SPOILERS (IT’S BLADE RUNNER, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?)
Replicant- an artificial human created by the Wallace Corporation as slave labour, expendable soldiers and prostitutes. Replicants who go ‘’off the reservation’’ are hunted down by a Blade Runner, K (Ryan Gosling) and ‘’retired’’ (no benefits or ‘nuthin, you ingrates!). K tracks down one such Replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) and kills him. On Morton’s farm K discovers a box containing the remains of a skeleton which he brings into the LAPD for analysis. There is revealed the bones belonged to a Replicant… who died in childbirth. The idea that a Replicant could procreate is unthinkable and K is ordered to kill the investigation and destroy all evidence because the discovery ‘’breaks the world’’.
K resolves to find the truth; he goes to the Wallace Corporation and meets Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) to compare notes on the Replicant, after K leaves, Luv informs her boss/creator Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and he wants the child found for study. K’s investigation brings him to question his own identity as he doubts if he truly is a Replicant after discovering a carved wooden horse, which he had only seen in what he thought was an implanted memory of his non-existent childhood. Confiding in Joi (Ana de Armas) who is his virtual girlfriend, a la Cortana meets Her , and together they go in search of the father of the Replicant child, none other than Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford).
If you were hoping this film would definitively answer the decades old question ‘’is Deckard a Replicant?’’ well I can tell you, it also raises the question ‘’is K a Replicant?’’. The truth is left intentionally vague and I’m sure the internet will spent years debating and throwing out theories to explain and make sense of the mystery. After all, its part of the appeal of Blade Runner is obsessive fun of unravelling the plot. The film itself is long, its 2 hours and 40 minutes long! But it does draw you in and make you want to know and I wouldn’t go so far to call it boring. The action is sparse, which helps to preserve the drama for when a fight does break out and there’s a lot of world building going on in the background that informs the city of LA in 2049.
(Bet if K would found Deckard sooner if he enlisted the help of Nick Valentine).