Step right into the grit and grime of Blade Runner 2049. Spoilers ahoy.
Once more, with feeling: SPOILERS AHEAD.
You go past this point, there’s no one saving you. You mad, glorious fool. There’s not many as would storm these waters, let alone by themselves. I don’t know if that’s courage or recklessness, but whatever it is, I admire it. Alright, you go on then. Good luck, Godspeed, I’ll see you on the other side.
Alright. Still with me? Good. Here’s the first official clip for Blade Runner 2049. I’m not even going to contextualize it. Watch it–it’s glorious.
Right? This clip does a ton of work and all in only about 90 seconds or so. We’re gonna go through this beat by beat as best we can.
So right away we get this gorgeous shot of “the world.”
There’s so much happening here. So we get the junkyard/landfill vibe. You can see a lot of wreckage and decay as Officer K (Ryan Gosling), approaches. But also notice how many of those dome things there are–four that we can see, and I get the impression that there’s a lot more lurking just outside of our vision. This world is dirty and grimy. Smog hangs densely in the air. It is a stark contrast to the neon glitz of the cities.
Also I just want to take a moment and appreciate the grey tint to everything in this clip. It’s a welcome break from the “hyper-cinematic” blue and orange wash that’s everywhere these days. Admittedly that’s blue and orange there with his coat and the rust on the domes, but still the whole thing just feels dirty. It does such a great job of setting the tone, which is heartening to see. There’s a lot happening here and it’s all happening on purpose, which shows that the movie is being made by people who care about things like, ‘how color affects the feeling of the world.’
This part of the world is gross and K approaches, gun read, as water drips onto the dirt. There’s a door in that dome–which now that we’re closer in is definitely a constructed thing. That overhang and door look like they might have been a part of whatever it originally was, but then it’s been reinforced with scraps and panels and other things. There are people living here. Well.
As soon as K steps inside, everything shifts to feeling claustrophobic. These kids are coughing in the darkness where they work. As he walks in, everything gets that much closer. The kids immediately swarm him, clinging to him silently. But they’re not mobbing him to threaten him–it’s almost pleading. One of them immediately grabs his hand and leads him around the corner. From the look of these guys, they seem like replikids.
Let’s just linger on that. It’s basically a replicant filled sweatshop. As he goes in, we get the info that they’re taking nickel for colonial ships–just a little bit of extra detail about the world. After all, humanity got to Mars. The “Grand Life” off world. Which is immediately followed by Lennie James blowing a whistle and all the replikids standing up straight, heads bowed. “What sort you want?”
And there’s this awesome moment of “I’m not buying,” and Lennie James starts his, ‘Bigger than you’ speech. But there’s also this moment of–wait a minute, there were four other domes. All of them probably just as full. In just 90 seconds, you have: A world where replicants are doing sweat-shop labor. A world with colonial ships and a beautiful life off world (on Mars maybe but not necessarily), a world where replicants are bought and sold and where it happens all the time.
It’s an exploration of the shadows cast in the first movie. And I’m hopeful to see what comes next.
It’s too bad Lennie James’ character (likely) won’t live. But then again, who does?