Replicant or human? ‘Blade Runner 2049’ reignites existential debate


LOS ANGELES: Was Harrison Ford’s Officer Rick Deckard a human or a Replicant robot in 1982’s “Blade Runner”?

That is the question that fans of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller have been pondering for 35 years and now in a long-awaited sequel, that question is explored further.

Out in theaters Oct. 6, “Blade Runner 2049” takes place 30 years after the original film, when human-like robots called Replicants were hunted by police officers called ‘blade runners’ in a dystopian Los Angeles.

In the new film from Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling) hunts illegal Replicants hiding on a decaying Earth and he stumbles across something that can disrupt the current strained co-existence between humans and Replicants. He is tasked with finding Deckard (Ford) for answers.

“It’s an existential story,” director Denis Villeneuve told Reuters.

“It says a lot about reality. It says a lot about our relationship with broken dreams. It says things about as human beings we are programmed by our genetic background and our education, and that we are like trapped by that background and it’s very difficult for us to get free out of it,” he added.

Before journalists including Reuters saw “Blade Runner 2049” at advance press screenings, they were read a note from Villeneuve urging not give away any key plot points.

What is known is that an older, rugged Ford reprises his role as Officer Deckard. The veteran actor called the film an “experiential opportunity” for audiences to engage in the philosophical rhetoric.

“There’s a wonderful emotional context in the film, which is one of the things I most admire about it,” Ford said. “So much of what I had an ambition for seems to have been achieved.”

Scott’s “Blade Runner” envisioned Los Angeles in 2019 as a sprawling urban metropolis infused with Eastern and Western cultures. In “Blade Runner 2049,” Los Angeles has sprawled across much of California, and is built on top of Scott’s world, the gritty city a melting pot of English, Japanese and Russian influences.

Villeneuve said he made “Blade Runner 2049” as a standalone movie but given the new film’s higher stakes and bigger scope, a continuing franchise is not out of the question.

“The idea was to make a movie inspired by the universe of ‘Blade Runner’ with a very specific story and yes, I‘m positive that if (it) ever is welcomed, Ridley will come up with another idea,” the director said.