Blade Runner 2049 Ending

Blade Runner 2049 is now playing at theaters, and like the original Blade Runner, reaction is mixed. Some herald it as a masterpiece while others feel it’s all style and no substance. One of the film’s most powerful moments arrives at the very end, but that ending has some people speculating on deeper possible meanings. Now, the writers of the film have weighed in with their thoughts, as has comic book writer Mark Millar. MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW, so be warned. Read on for the Blade Runner 2049 ending theories.

Denis Villeneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049 is a big movie with big ideas. In fact, the movie feels so big that it can actually come across as a bit overwhelming and dizzying as it pulls you deeper and deeper into its world. A movie that traffics in unusual concepts is often going to be dissected and studied and analyzed, which is a good thing! One section of the movie that I personally don’t think is mysterious at all, in any way, is the ending. But apparently I’m in the minority, and the film’s emotional ending has left some perplexed.

Screenwriters Michael Green and Hampton Fancher, who both worked on the Blade Runner 2049 script separately, have offered their own insight into the film’s conclusion. Again, SPOILERS FOLLOW, I can’t stress this enough. There are SPOILERS AHOYWATCH OUT FOR SPOILERS. Am I selling this whole SPOILER thing? I hope so! SPOILERS!

At Blade Runner 2049‘s conclusion, Ryan Gosling‘s Blade Runner K, aka Joe, brings ex-Blade Runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) to see his daughter (Carla Juri), who has been in hidden for nearly 30 years because she’s a miracle child born of a replicant woman (that would be Sean Young‘s character Rachel from the original film). Juri’s character is secluded in a glass chamber, having been lead to believe she has an immune disease her whole life. The final scene unfolds wordlessly as Deckard enters the chamber and places his hand on the glass. Ford gives some of the best acting of his career in the moment, just from the slight smile that appears on his face as he touches the glass.

Speaking with Collider, writer Hampton Fancher said this ending was not in his draft of the Blade Runner 2049 screenplay: “I didn’t have that ending in my version, so it had nothing to do with what I was doing. That was the work of the current workers.”

Michael Green, who came on to work on the script after Fancher, takes credit for the ending:

“When I saw my way through a story that preserved a lot of what Hampton did and had a few different turns along the way, that was from Minute One the ending. It was in the first outline I wrote, never changed. I think the only thing that changed in that scene is occasionally a bit more dialogue came in and out, in and out, but that last moment was the moment. That was what the story to build for.”

Green also adds that Villeneuve shot the ending a few different ways:

“There was maybe one more exchange shot, and I remember talking about that with Denis. I felt certainly the less said the better, and he felt that too but there were a couple pretty lines that we’d talk through that he just thought might be worth having in there. But if the movie had played right, and I always felt that it would in Denis’ hand, that scene is pure emotion and then pure release, and then anything said is just pure music.”

The final ending that happens in the film works perfectly as-is. It’s a haunting, surprisingly emotional moment. But apparently that’s not entirely good enough for some viewers, who have taken to dissecting the ending even further and trying to find a secret twist that, personally speaking, I don’t think is there.

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Mark Millar’s Blade Runner 2049 Theory

Comic writer Mark Millar, the creator behind Kick-Ass and the Kingsman series, offered up his own theory of what the ending really means on a forum on his site Millarworld. Millar’s theory posits that Gosling’s character was never real, but rather a ” fake memory of Deckard’s” and “all his scenes just fake memories.” This theory relies on the long-running, never-quite-settled theory that Deckard himself was a replicant the entire time. Honestly, I think Blade Runner 2049 makes it pretty clear that Deckard is not a replicant, but I suppose if the film never comes out and says that, people will continue to talk about it.

Millar goes on:

Nothing this director does is accidental. Nothing is wasted. The AI girlfriend earlier with snowflakes falling on her wrist replicated by Gosling later in the movie, when he realised he was never a real, is there to hammer home this point. Like Fight Club, he existed nowhere else beyond the mind of another character in this movie and every event prior to Deckard coming into the picture was fake, hinted at by Gosling’s boss too when she says he has no soul and he pauses for a second, almost in recognition of his unreality. The final clue? His name. His was called K and later Joe. His name is thus Joe-K or Joke.

No offense to Mr. Millar, but if this script is really trying to pull this “his name is really Joke!” idea, that’s kind of silly, and doesn’t fit at all with the tone of the movie. I won’t besmirch Millar his fun – there’s nothing wrong with people coming up with their own fan theories regarding a film.

Personally speaking, though, I feel that this theory of the ending completely robs Blade Runner 2049 of all its power. It’s tantamount to the hoary old “It was all a dream!” trope. All the emotional and psychological weight of the narrative is completely null and void if this is really what the ending is trying to signify. Either way, though, the fact that Blade Runner 2049 is the type of movie that has people talking is a good thing. It signifies that this is the type of movie that we’ll all still be talking about in years to come.

Blade Runner 2049 is now playing in theaters. It’s great, please go see it.

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