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.
On a plot level, people argued whether Deckard, whose job it was to "retire" rogue androids called replicants, was human or not.
Blade Runner 2049 opens this evening, and you should postpone all life events, up to and including the viewing of professional baseball and the birth of your children, to see it on the biggest, best possible screen available. But it also took out any ambiguity from one of the film's central questions: Is Harrison Ford's character a replicant?
As the original film took place in 2019, it held a prescience that the sequel continues over what was predicted and what has happened, and what may come to be.
Villeneuve seems to have been more inspired by the task of creating a world beyond the city limits. After a moderately successful opening, "Blade Runner" slipped off everyone's radar. This is a movie where the most important businessman in the world appears to live and do business mostly alone in what looks like the world's most austere and expensive hotel lobby, and chooses to see the world not for himself, but with little flying cameras as his intermediaries. Records, which explains why Sinatra, too, is able to make a holographic appearance; and when we hear Elvis Presley later on, and see an Elvis impersonator, we might note that rights to his music are now owned by Sony, Warner's co-distributor of this film. The two are now promoting Blade Runner 2049 and managed to find themselves on a British daytime talk show called This Morning. The movie's visual palette is so striking that I was nearly disappointed when Villeneuve would cut away from a long, slow plan through the dystopian streets of Los Angeles to get back to the narrative. And if there's an emotional payoff inside said world, it's all on the shoulders of your cast. It was really very simple for me to enjoy it. (That's also true of Villeneuve's previous film, Arrival). Which means two things.
An interview with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling quickly devolved into a fit of giggles that left both stars reaching for the bottle to get through. For one thing, the very medium of high-definition home video does considerable good for the film. For some keen observers, this might be a problem. Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language.
It's a slow, quiet story, with plenty of time (163 minutes!) for you appreciate the visuals. The cinematography, CGI, make-up, costumes and special effects work well.
Villeneuve's decision was to go bigger, weirder, blue and yellow filters coloring scenes, an industrial-noise score (by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch) blaring on the soundtrack. You feel it in your chest when that synth fires up. It's the perfected version of what Scott and team were building. The photography, by Roger Deakins, is resolutely gorgeous, filled with stark perpendicular lines, glowing orange hazes and yellow pools of reflected light. The legendary cinematographer whose involvement in this project was enough to wet the whistles of many a film nerd. What K learns should change him, but Gosling keeps the character inscrutable.
Did they have any deleted scenes? With the future at stake, nothing is sacred and each man must make a choice of what's worth living for and what's worth dying for. Deckard, human or replicant, played off of replicant Rachael (Sean Young).
Now, there are some things you're going to want to do before you head off to the theaters this weekend. "If someone told me I'd one day be sitting in a hot tub fully clothed talking to Harrison Ford, just chatting it up, I would have said I doubt it", he laughs. But it's wrapped in the most beautifully complex packaging to create an experience that is otherworldly.