The Exclamation Point is a feature where I look at the moment a piece of culture made me go [!]. Today’s subject is Blade Runner 2049, a film directed by Denis Villeneuve.
(Spoilers, or whatever.)
The Blade Runner sequel offers a vision of the future full of modern isolation:
For replicant K., the only respectable employment is destructive and mercenary; the sexual and spiritual companionship he’s encouraged to chase is empty and illusory; he inhabits a sprawling urban dystopia where he is paradoxically alone; what he thinks of as his “childhood” is a series of images manufactured for him somewhere else.
But K. has come to accept all this as the price of existence. The breaking point comes in the form of a very particular trauma.
Shit Gets A Little Too Real
For a certain age demographic, this is the most relatable part of the film. You trudge through life as a parentless android, until a strange and particular hope is cast to you as a life preserver: that Harrison Ford is your dad.
. . . Then that hope is shattered.
And not Rick Deckard. Ford. This is a reprisal of his 1982 role, but for me this film doesn’t make any sense if Deckard isn’t played by the actor who performed as Han Solo and Indiana Jones.
The Deadbeat Moviestar
The two franchises have certain similarities: they begin with a sort of How I Met Your Mother, and then churn through a bunch of daddy issues.
First Indiana Jones: He’s not Short Round’s dad, then all that Henry Junior drama, and finally he is Shia Labeouf’s dad, but also fuck you Shia. (Because who’s not going to disown that guy?)
When the Force finally reawakens, Kylo Ren spears Han Solo with a lightsaber and throws him into an abyss. Why? The movie doesn’t really give a reason. But the setting mirrors the dramatic reveal between Luke and Vader in Cloud City, and intuitively you know how to read it: this is the “I am not your father” scene.
Because let’s face it: over the last forty years, actor Harrison Ford has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to be your dad. He is not your role model. He doesn’t give a shit what you are up to or what becomes of you. And he’s not going to loan you any money. Kylo Ren is an entire generation of brats raised by screens who are angry at decades of neglect from their cinematic paternal figure, Harrison Fuckin’ Ford.
Ryan Gosling Can Only Be That Handsome If He Grew Up In A Movie
Replicant K. can deal with the putrid rot of today’s spiritual necropolis, but then he goes to Vegas and finds Harrison Ford doesn’t want to be his dad, in fact never was his dad, and to top it off, keeps punching him in the fucking face while in the background plays some cheesy-as-shit medley of oldies which Ford keeps in a vinyl stack next to his porn stash. “Fuck you, Shia,” says Ford, face-punchingly.
This is where K. kind of loses it.
The film’s climax comes with K. attempting to rescue Ford from drowning ingloriously. No clear reason is given why keeping Deckard alive is important at this point. In fact, the struggle seems driven by K.’s psychological inability to let go after getting rebuffed (reBeoufed) like fifty times. Because father/son/neither relationships are fucking crazy that way.
Seriously Though, Fuck Shia LaBeouf
Blade Runner 2049 concludes with K. dying (or not dying) outside some building in the snow, while inside Ford meets his real replicant daughter. K. feels a drop of vindication because at least Harrison Ford is somebody’s dad.
But also, K. is not at the meeting because a) nobody wants him and b) how fucking unbearable to watch someone else receive the acceptance not even getting shot for the bastard will earn you.
What can I say? 2049 is now.