Finally we got a good idea of the cast and plot of Blade Runner 2049, the sequel we never knew we wanted, Ridley Scott’s iconic cyberpunk thriller. In this trailer we see that director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) develops his own style and expands the universe of the first film far beyond its original boundaries.
The original Blade Runner from 1982 is intentionally claustrophic, keeping our point of view firmly encased in the rainy, polluted Los Angeles cityscape. We see only expansive vistas as we climb the gleaming pyramid occupied by Tyrell Corporation founder Eldon Tyrell.
Immediately the trailer for Blade Runner 2049 gives us a completely different view of the world. Yes, there are cityscapes of holographic ladies, as well as a giant Atari logo that looks like it’s about to eat the universe. But there are also dramatic deserts, perhaps signs of profound climate change. We even see Officer K (Ryan Gosling) discover a date engraved on a buried tree branch, and later he’s in some sort of forest fight (although that forest might be a hologram). Director Villeneuve made excellent use of landscape in Arrivalso it’s great to see him doing the same here.
We also get a clear signal that Blade Runner 2049 is going to address an issue that eventually came to the fore in the first movie: the political horror that is replica slavery. Although this is a big problem in Blade Runner, the film ended more with philosophical issues about what it means to be human. But Blade Runner 2049 puts slavery at the center, at least in this trailer.
“Every civilization is built on the back of an available workforce,” Wallace (Jared Leto) says in the opening trailer. We’re not quite sure who he is, but he has strange (biotech?) eyes and is clearly making a new replicant. He also says he can’t make many replicants, suggesting a collapsing slave economy or major resource depletion. The scene where replicas are made also reminds us that these creatures are completely biological, not cyborgs.
So what else do we learn from this trailer? Well, Mackenzie Davis (the best of Stop and catch fire) is there and looks very Pris-esque. Agent K seems to have come to former blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) with a few bad guys on his trail, based on the explosions that follow him. K tries to unravel something about the past, possibly with help from the goopy replicant Wallace made, Joi (Ana de Armas). Villeneuve has already dropped that part of the plot will be about whether Deckard is a replicant.
The trailer makes the new film look like it will have a visual language all its own. It also seems to have a plot that will take us in a new direction, expanding the world of the original. Obviously trailers can be deceiving, but this one gave me hope.
Blade Runner 2049 opens in US cinemas on October 6.
List image by Warner Bros.