Dave Bautista Stars in Latest ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Prequel Short

We’re street level this time, in 2048 LA.
By  · Published on September 15th, 2017

We’re street level this time, in 2048 LA.

Blade Runner 2049 is almost upon us. Whether you’re waiting with bated breath or something more like cautious skepticism, Denis Villeneuve is here to stoke the fire and keep you on your toes. Little nuggets of story continue to roll out from the Warner Bros camp in an attempt to foster a stronger link between Ridley Scott’s original film and the Villeneuve follow-up. Most recently, the second of three short films — mini prequels to the sequel — was released, titled 2048: Nowhere to Run.

Starring Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and set a year before the events of Blade Runner 2049, the new short film (directed by Luke Scott) introduces Sapper Morton. Although a brooding, conflicted man, he visibly lights up when he interacts with a little girl at the night market, their easy rapport indicating a friendship of some kind. There is a glimpse at the humanity beneath Sapper’s imposing physical presence here — a softness that’s rather fresh in such a somber setting. However, everything comes crashing down when the girl and her mother are hassled by bandits and Sapper is forced to violent take them down. It is revealed that he is really a replicant when he is stabbed to zero effect, and this display of superhuman strength and tenaciousness puts his life in peril.

Nowhere to Run includes various themes and threads of character development that fit into its own little story while simultaneously introducing a new character from the core film. It works as a short film on its own while keeping us intrigued about the potential whereabouts of Bautista’s character after he disappears. He is so distraught that he leaves behind a stack of papers that easily identify him, which speaks to potential questions of morality and belonging that Blade Runner 2049 will likely touch on. Overall, it feels easier to not only root for Sapper, but to simply care about the dynamics surrounding human-replicant relationships in general.

It’s everything the first released short, titled 2036: Nexus Dawn (also directed by Luke Scott), isn’t. The difference of perspective is definitely welcome. Nexus Dawn introduces a blatantly rogue, unruly element in the narrative: Niander Wallace, played by a temporarily-blinded Jared Leto (cue eye roll). Wallace parades a new ultra-compliant replicant around, demonstrating his ability to control and encourage self-inflicted harm and suicide.

Nexus Dawn is a creepy short, but fulfills a different narrative scope compared to Nowhere to Run. Both teasers reacquaint the audience with the replicant idea and then some. It is now evident that a replicant like Sapper is very different to the one that Wallace creates. Sapper has a strong emotional connection to being human and a commitment to self-preservation, which clearly gets him in trouble. Wallace’s replicant just stares blank-faced, with acquiescence being its main “drive” to live.

What’s also intriguing about these short films is the obvious sudden time jump between 2036 and 2048. These teasers have been released in chronological order so far, leading us to believe the third mini film will follow in the same way. So what are we meant to think of that 12-year gap between the first two shorts alone?

Arguably, that’s probably something that the actual feature film will address, or at least we’re hoping so. Overall, Nexus Dawn and Nowhere to Run serve diff our interest in Blade Runner 2049, unpacking different facets of the story. Here’s to hoping the third and final short will really pack a punch and gear us up for one of the most anticipated sequels perhaps ever.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)