"I want to ask you some questions," Ryan Gosling's Officer K tells Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard in the first trailer for Blade Runner 2049. Nearly 35 years after Ridley Scott's neo-noir classic debut, Blade Runner fans are still faced with the same inquiries: What is real, and what does it mean to be human?
The sequel, directed by Denis Villenueve and penned by Blade Runner co-writer Hampton Fancher, takes place three decades after the original, with Gosling's "blade runner," a bounty hunter of biorobotic androids dubbed "replicants," patrolling the same smoky, neon-laced landscape that Deckard navigated in 2019.
The first trailer implants the viewer back in that futuristic, cluttered Los Angeles – sumptuously captured by master cinematographer Roger Deakins – as Officer K seeks to unlock a mystery that could catalyse a war between humans and the lookalike beings.
The trailer opens with Jared Leto's silver-eyed character Wallace kneeling at the slimy end of the birth canal process for "replicants." "Every civilisation was built off the back of a disposable workforce," he tells a full-grown newborn. "But I can only make so many. Happy birthday."
Officer K's boss, played by Robin Wright, then breaks down the basic premise of blade running: "There is an order to things. That's what we do here: We keep order. The world is built on a wall that separates kind. Tell either side there's no wall, you bought a war."
According to the film's synopsis, 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."
The highlight comes when Officer K encounters Deckard, who is in hiding for reasons unknown. "You're a cop. I did your job once. I was good at it," Deckard growls at K, pointing a gun at the young blade runner. K responds that he wants to ask Deckard some questions, a nod to the infamous Voight-Kampff test used by blade runners to distinguish man from machine. It's unclear why K seeks out Deckard, but the former blade runner is needed to unlock the puzzle at the heart of the film.
The trailer also provides passing glimpses at characters played by Guardians of the Galaxy's Dave Bautista, Halt and Catch Fire's Mackenzie Davis and Ana de Armas as K's ("replicant"?) love interest. Sylvia Hoeks, who appears to portray a bounty hunter of bounty hunters under Wallace's employ, is involved in multiple shootouts in the trailer. However, Edward James Olmos' seedy cop Gaff, a reprisal of his role from the 1982 film, is absent from the first trailer.
It's unclear what role Bautista is playing, but Ridley Scott, a producer on the sequel, previously revealed how he envisioned a Blade Runner sequel would open: With Deckard fighting a 350-pound "replicant" in the barren wastelands of 2019 Wyoming. While it's unclear whether that scene, which was the original opening to Blade Runner itself in a draft of that script, carried over to 2049, Bautista definitely meets the qualifications of "350-pound behemoth."
Scott also hinted that the Blade Runner sequel would finally answer whether Deckard is a "replicant," but 2049 will likely torment viewers with that same question regarding Officer K.
"Your story isn't over yet. There's still a page left," de Armas tells K in voiceover as the blade runner stares down at an open book, pages torn from its middle, in a scene reminiscent to the "unicorn" memories where Deckard questioned his own reality in Blade Runner.
Before the trailer premiered, Gosling, Ford and Villeneuve sat down for a Facebook Live panel where the trio discussed the original Blade Runner's impact, the connection between the films and how the technology seen in the "prophetic" 1982 movie – Blade Runner takes place in 2019, just two years from now – holds up to reality.
"We haven't worked out the flying car thing yet, so that's disappointing," Gosling joked about the technology seen in 1982's version of 2019. "But I'm being nicer to my electronics, just in case."
Ford added, "I think it's fascinating that the original film postulated a technology that, in many ways, we surpassed and, in other ways, we're not quite there." The actor said that Blade Runner 2049, like the original, "deals with some of the ethical consequences" of humans' relationship with technology.
Ford, who has reprised his iconic characters Indiana Jones and Han Solo in recent years, also spoke about steeping back into the role of Rick Deckard after over three decades. "I think that the character is woven into the story that intrigued me," Ford said. "There's a very strong emotional context."
One of the questions the actors refused to answer has perplexed Blade Runner fans for years: Is Deckard himself a "replicant"? The fact that the bounty hunter ages naturally like humans – as opposed to deteriorate after four years like the "replicants" in Blade Runner – suggests Deckard was human after all, whatever that entails.
"We are still exploring the themes of memories and empathy," Villeneuve said. "That is what the film is about: What it means to be human."
Blade Runner 2049 arrives in Australia theatres on October 5th.