Blade Runner 2049 is now in theaters and, like the original 1982 classic, it leaves several hanging threads and unanswered questions. The ending could hardly be considered “definitive,” as in other blockbusters. While Harrison Ford’s Deckard does get some closure, there are plenty of other things going on that could be picked up on for a Blade Runner sequel.
WARNING: From this point on, this post is heavy on spoilers!
Blade Runner 2049 runs over two hours and 40 minutes, and earns every bit of that length, diving deep into the mysteries of the world based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The film begins straightforward – we see “Blade Runner” K (Ryan Gosling) track down Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), a Replicant. During the fight, we also learn that K is actually a Replicant. Afterwards, he discovers a box on Sapper’s farm.
At LAPD headquarters, they find Rachael’s (Sean Young) bones in the box. It turns out that the dead woman gave birth to a child. This is stunning news, since Rachael was a Replicant. The Tyrell Corporation actually made a Replicant that can give birth to another being. K is sent out to find the baby. But Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), the only person allowed to create new Replicants, has Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) stay on his trail.
During his investigation, K begins to think that he might be the baby after he learns that one of his implanted memories is real. He tracks Deckard to the abandoned, contaminated Las Vegas, but Luv is on his trail. Luv and her henchman nearly kill K (they make a big cliche bad guy mistake by not making sure he’s really dead) and leave off with Deckard. Wallace thinks Deckard can lead him to his child, but Deckard refuses. While Luv tries to take Deckard off-world to torture him, K catches up and stops her.
K is successful in stopping Luv and reunites Deckard with his daughter, Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri). She works as a freelance dream-creator for Wallace. For reasons left unexplained, Ana implanted a real memory of her own childhood inside K, which is why he thought he was the child.
Blade Runner 2049 has a happy ending for Deckard, but K very likely dies from the injuries he sustained during his fight with Luv at the end. While he’s on the ground and snow falls around him, we hear the same theme Vangelis composed for Roy Blatty’s (Rutger Hauer) famous “Tears in Rain” speech from Blade Runner. K also didn’t go inside to see Deckard’s reunion with his daughter, letting that be just a family moment.
While there’s no immediate plans for a sequel, there are certainly plenty of threads left in the Blade Runner universe. We still don’t know if Freysa (Hiam Abbass) and the other members of her Replicant freedom movement will have any success proving to the world that Replicants are “more human than human.”
Will Ana go public with her past or will Deckard continue to keep her hidden from Wallace? We also don’t know what the connection is between Deckard and Sapper. Blade Runner 2049 also doesn’t try to answer the immortal question – is Deckard a Replicant or not? We’ve also never seen what life is like off-world in this universe.
Another major question that hovers over the film is how Rachael could have had a child in the first place if she was a Replicant. Did Tyrell really create a highly sophisticated android with a reproductive system? We don’t know if Tyrell only created one Nexus 8 Replicant like Rachael or if there are others out there. And if we don’t know the answer to that, why did Freysa think it was possible others like Rachael could exist?
As for Wallace, it certainly isn’t a good ending for him. He will likely think Deckard is dead, and Freysa’s resistance has renewed vigor to rise up against him. While some blockbusters might use this subplot as an excuse for some over-done battle sequence, there’s nothing of the sort in Blade Runner 2049. Instead, this is left as a hanging thread.
Maybe it’s for the best that these questions are left unanswered in the film. It’s already long as it is. Perhaps like Star Wars, Blade Runner needs an expanded universe to explain things. Warner Bros. did release three short films ahead of the new film’s release, which fill in some of the blanks. One even explains how the “Black Out” happened.
“This movie is just out of the oven,” Villeneuve told the Los Angeles Times when asked if he was open to a sequel. “I have no distance from it at all. I’m still making my peace with it. So a third one — if there is a third one — is not something I’ve thought about at all. For me, it was enough to try to stay on the horse for this run, you know?”
Blade Runner 2049 shares plenty of parallels with the original film. Both established a universe, but focused on small, personal stories at the risk of leaving some tiny details unanswered. All that stuff about Wallace, a resistance and expanding humanity’s reach was just set dressing for a little story about a detective helping a father reunite with his child.