BLADE RUNNER 2049: Sentience, Self and SciFi

Spoilers for BLADE RUNNER 2049 follow.

The original BLADE RUNNER always left me cold. Except for the Roy Batty speech at the end, Ridley Scott’s influential flop has the temperature and the sheen of an intricately wrought steel blade; I can appreciate the craftsmanship and the edge, but I can’t hold it close. I never connected with the film on an emotional level, and I definitely never connected with Rick Deckard, a character whose cool remove removed him from my ability to care. I appreciate the film – design-wise it’s a masterpiece, and cinematographically it’s stunning – but I’ve never loved it. Hell, I’ve never LIKED it, and I’ve seen it a whole bunch of times (on screens small and big, and I’ve also watched every cut). It’s the film I like the least that I’ve tried the most.

The humanity missing from BLADE RUNNER – a movie that asks what makes us human – is present and beating and bleeding in BLADE RUNNER 2049. A remarkable follow-up that feels fully respectful while also forging new ground, BR2049 is a personal science fiction epic that foregrounds the moral and philosophical questions that BLADE RUNNER obfuscated behind its design and posing. By reversing the question BLADE RUNNER left us with – is our Blade Runner a replicant becomes is our Blade Runner a human – BR2049 blows open the stifling stuffiness of the future and brings the dilemma home.

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