Recently Read: Blade Runner 2049

The title above may seem inaccurate to some. They might be asking, “Did he mistype that title?” No. I read the screenplay for Blade Runner 2049, written by Michael Green and Hampton Fancher. I didn’t watch the movie.

Trailers and previews were all I’d seen of this movie prior to my reading. So I had an idea of what the script might be about, but I had no idea of the throughline, or the plot, if you like. Trailers and previews can be deceiving, sometimes even on purpose. The people who make the movie also make the previews. They don’t want you to get the whole movie from a preview, otherwise you wouldn’t pay to see the movie.

So, on reading the screenplay, of course I ran into the same characters you would watching the movie. There’s the main character K, who is a bounty hunter like Deckard of old. He hunts missing replicants for a bounty. He knows he’s a replicant. This is made clear. While the Deckard of old was unsure, K knows.

Deckard also makes an appearance, though his brief visits are mainly only an obstacle for K to overcome on his way to the more dominant plot.

There is Luv, a highly trained replicant who also knows. Luv says, at one point, “I’m the best.” Where have we heard that before?

Then there are a load of side characters like Sapper and Joshi and Ana and Joi and Wallace. Sapper, by the way, is my favorite side character in the screenplay. He seems to have the most interesting backstory that isn’t told. He was in some sort of war, and though from his description, you’d think he was a warrior, it turns out he was a medic. I’d like to hear more about that story.

The screenplay is written professionally well. It gives you the feeling or the mood of the world Philip K. Dick created and mingles it with the world Ridley Scott envisioned.

Some of it might not translate well to film. I can only imagine. Like I said, I haven’t seen the full movie, only clips. Reading the screenplay was immersive, so I give full credit for Drawing Power. I was drawn in like a fly to honey.

Within the screenplay were many silly dialog points which I could see were thrown in for “grit” or “edge”. But if you have to manufacture the edginess with dialog it means you’re lacking in events or conflict. These were brief moments, little hiccups in the screenplay, so I don’t think the writers meant to create hiccups, it just happened. They deserve the benefit of the doubt. Likewise, there were some events, such as the “ghost sex” when Joi and Mariette “join” to please K, which seemed as if the writers ran out of ideas. Earlier, they mentioned K not needing bounty money, so of course at the gratuitous sex scene, you’re wondering what he would need with intercourse. A replicant wouldn’t need most of what humans need. The question is a theme that threads the story from every end. The question can’t be avoided.

When Philip K. Dick wrote his novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? he was full of questions, but the one question he claimed drove him to write the novel was this one: What constitutes the authentic human? It only follows that we might wonder: What constitutes the authentic replicant?

Do they need to smoke cigars? Would they even want to? Would they eat junk food? Or, if they ate at all, would they be programmed to eat the most efficient foods? Would they need to breathe? How often would they breathe? How many doctor’s visits would they need? Would they hate the seams on socks like humans do? How would they react in an earthquake? Or a hurricane? The questions are endless.

The screenplay of Blade Runner 2049 skims over the philosophical nature of Philip K. Dick’s original work, but, to be fair, how would a movie ever give decent play to philosophy anyway? This is the major flaw in the myriad attempts to capture Frankenstein on screen. Frankenstein, the novel, in a similar ilk to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was philosophical at its heart. It just doesn’t translate well to a visual medium.

Despite this obvious truncation of thoughts when translating words to screen, I did enjoy reading the screenplay.

And before I leave you without even summing up the plot, here it is in summary. A new Blade Runner is out finding renegade replicants when he discovers a secret from Rick Deckard’s era. He hunts down the mystery of a possible human/replicant birth and hunts down Deckard as well. The answers he gets are not what he expected.

Although I enjoyed reading the screenplay, the secondary twist at the end threw me off that horse. Or should I say unicorn? I was riding the dream and then the writers basically threw a gimmick in at the end. In my opinion, the first twist was enough. The secondary twist was unnecessary. Maybe they thought the first twist was too obvious, so they added another.

My rating of the screenplay:

  1. Drawing power. . .one star
  2. Interesting. . .one star (I did want to know how it ended)
  3. Offensive factor. . .half star (mildly offensive moments; remember, this is for the screenplay, not the movie)
  4. Range of emotions. . .half star (same mood throughout)
  5. Character factor. . .one star (interesting characters)
  6. Technic/style. . .half star (the secondary twist at the end brought this score down)
  7. Proper length. . .one star

Total score: 5 1/2 stars

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, five screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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