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Here’s What We Can Say About Blade Runner 2049: It’s Perfect

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel is such an excellent homage to the 1982 film that there’s almost nothing we can tell you about the plot, characters, and connections to the original story that won’t be seen as a major spoiler.

The official synopsis reveals that three decades after the event of the first movie, “a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.” Pretty vague, right?

We know there are still blade runners, and that means there are still replicants. So has someone has taken over Tyrell Corporation following Eldon’s brutal death at the hands of Roy Batty? Yes. And no. Produced by original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott and co-written by his screenwriter Hampton Fancher, Blade Runner 2049 answers some of the questions that the first movie left us with—but not necessarily the ones you might think.

2049 keeps all the best elements from the original, while making it obvious that life on this version of Earth has only gone downhill since we last visited. (Ads to migrate to the off-world colonies still blare across the city, only no one can afford the trip.) California still looks like a globally warmed-over hellhole with snow in some areas, drought in others, and of course, constant, unrelenting rain in Los Angeles.

The sets evoke Douglas Trumbull’s groundbreaking work, Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch use Vangelis-inspired music, and the Voight Kampff test has been sped up and modernized to include a protective wall between interviewer and interviewee (an small ode to Leon, perhaps). There’s also the same kind of futuristic tech that still looks shitty enough for you to know that, despite the major scientific leaps forward, the era isn’t destined to go down as a real bright spot in human history.

Instead, it’s a future where the seemingly still intact Soviet Union holds sway over cultural life in America (Ryan Gosling’s K reads Nabokov’s Pale Fire and has his ringtone set to Prokofiev’s string quartet from Peter And The Wolf), where a ten-day period called ‘The Blackout’ erased all data, from bank records to baby pictures, and where brands like Peugeot, Pan-Am airlines, and Atari are still thriving (look, we’re as excited for the Ataribox as the next gamer but it doesn’t mean the company is on it’s way to being a tech giant again).

All of this is set against the backdrop of a neon-lit dystopia in which K lives, stoically hunting down outlawed Nexxus models until he makes a discovery that rattles him and leads him to disobey orders from his superior (Robin Wright) and begin to investigate his own past and his ties to Harrison Ford’s long lost Deckard.

Villeneuve—whose most recent work, the alien invasion movie Arrival, predicted his success with the sci-fi genre—is quite obviously a Blade Runner fanatic. 2049’s edges match up seamlessly with those of its predecessor. Fans who worried about how a sequel might taint their love of the first film can rest easy, aside from one or two minor characters that feel a bit extraneous to the story Villeneuve is telling, this is one of those rare sequels that comes very close to being as good as the original.

Blade Runner 2049 also stars Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks, and the Pris-like Mackenzie Davis. It hits theatres this Friday, October 6. Check out the trailer below.

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