Blade Runner does what all good sci-fi should and questions the nature of humanity.
I was nervous at Blade Runner’s resurrection as the original film had such emotional resonance and has become a cult classic. The script works well because of the triangle of central characters and the interplay of their three differing positions.
Deckard is ostensibly human but the question of his existence is challenged throughout – Is he a replicant? In my opinion, it only works if he is human. His job as a Blade Runner is to dipatch dangerous outlawed replicants and he is good at it. He is a casual killer, undisturbed by any consciousness. Rachael is unaware she is a replicant but is plunged into existential crisis when Deckard reveals the true nature of her existence. Her implanted memories of childhood are vivid and visceral. She remembers taking piano lessons and can play beautifully. If the outcome is the same is she any less human? Roy Batty is a replicant who knows his function in the universe. He is intelligent, sensitive and capable of love. All replicants have an allotted time span and Roy knows his is coming to an end. Roy questions Deckard's right to judge what is human and who gets to live.
Blade Runner 2049 pivots around the evolution of the replicant. Rachael has given birth to a child and this changes the fundamental nature of what it means to be a replicant. If they are able to reproduce then they are as human as any of us. The question has been solved and the tension dissolved. The lead character Officer K is a replicant unable to lie and built to serve. Throughout the film he learns to hide information from his employer and finally protects the replicant child from destruction. This means the film lacks the intensity of the original and the magic triangle of opposing positions. It is beautiful and stylish but becomes a thriller rather than an existential treaty. In rebooting Blade Runner it loses its essence and becomes only a replica of the original.