10 More Dystopian Futures To Sink Into
Blade Runner is a quintessential sci-fi flick. Directed by Ridley Scott, the movie takes place in a dystopian future, depicting LA in 2019. With a blend of noir crime and thrills, this film still holds up to this day.
If you’re looking for similar picks, we’ve got you covered! We’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle with our top picks for alternate viewing. As usual, let us know your thoughts about our picks in the comments below!
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Blade Runner 2049 is a direct sequel to the 1982 original Blade Runner, so it makes sense that it feature on our list. Set in 2049, this sequel follows Officer K, a new generation Blade Runner working for the LAPD, whose job it is to ‘retire’ bioengineered humans known as replicants.
When K uncovers a buried secret that could plunge society into chaos, he embarks on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who’s been missing for 30 years.
This movie expands on the same themes as the original, such as the nature of humanity, the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, and a look at a harrowing, dystopian future. The noir aesthetic, moral ambiguity, and philosophical undertones are of course, directly inherited from the original Blade Runner.
Children of Men (2006)
In a dystopian future, women have become infertile and humanity is facing extinction. In the center of this, a disillusioned bureaucrat is brought back into action when he becomes the unlikely protector of the world’s only pregnant woman. The mission of this unlikely duo comes from delivering the woman to a sanctuary on the south coast, Bexhill, where her child’s birth may help scientists save the future of mankind.
Both movies are set in a dystopian future and touch on themes of humanity’s future and survival. Children of Men, like Blade Runner, uses its narrative to explore moral questions about our purpose in this world. The visual aesthetic is also pretty similar too, albeit with a little less neon!
Gattaca depicts a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best traits of their parents. The story centers around Vincent, who is conceived naturally and faces genetic discrimination. He also has dreams of space travel and in order to achieve his dream, assumes the identity of a genetically superior individual.
Both films question the definition of humanity in societies where that line between artificial and “real” blurs. Like Blade Runner, Gattaca challenges that idea of inferiority between natural and designed beings, scrutinizing the ethical implications of these practices.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel is set in a post-apocalyptic future and revolves around a cyborg with no memory of her past called Alita. Found in a junkyard by a compassionate cyber-doctor, Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets. In doing so, she discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save her friends and family.
Like Blade Runner, Alita: Battle Angel explores the concept of artificial life and its intersection with humanity. The cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetic certainly lean into shared features between the two movies.
Chinatown is a neo-noir film directed by Roman Polanski and set in Los Angeles, 1937. The story follows private investigator J.J. “Jake” Gittes who’s hired by a woman claiming to be Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray. She wants him to spy on her husband, Hollis Mulwray, the city’s chief engineer for the water department.
When Hollis Mulwray is found dead, Gittes is drawn into a web of deceit involving murder, incest, and corruption all related to the city’s water supply.
Chinatown aligns itself with Blade Runner through its heavy use of noir crime. Both feature a private detective drawn into a complicated mystery involving high-level corruption. They explore themes of deception, moral ambiguity, and the blurred lines between good and evil.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Ghost in the Shell is set in the mid-21st century and follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg public-security agent, who hunts a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master. The narrative grapples with themes of self-identity, consciousness, and the line between humanity and artificial intelligence.
Both Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner are staples of the cyberpunk genre, featuring high tech, low life societies, and philosophical themes around identity, memory, and what it means to be human. The visual aesthetic of the cityscape, combined with existential themes, makes this an absolute must-watch.
Minority Report (2002)
Set in the year 2054, Minority Report centers around a company called PreCrime, a specialized police department that apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called “precogs.” When the film’s protagonist, John Anderton, is accused of a future crime, he’s forced into finding out how to prevent this and prove his innocence.
Both films are based on stories by Philip K. Dick and share themes of free will, identity, and the implications of advanced technology on society. Questions around predestination and morality link the two, while the futuristic settings are another equally endearing trait.
Dark City (1998)
In Dark City, a man wakes up in an odd hotel with no memory of who he is, only to discover that he’s wanted for a series of murders. As he attempts to uncover his past and escape this bizarre city, he encounters a group of malevolent beings and learns that they’re manipulating reality as we know it.
Both Dark City and Blade Runner are noir-styled, featuring a protagonist struggling with memory and identity. If that wasn’t enough, the undercurrent of manipulation, reality vs. illusion, and existential dread share a common link.
Strange Days (1995)
Strange Days is a cyberpunk thriller set during the final days of 1999. The main protagonist is Lenny Nero, an ex-cop turned street hustler who deals in “playback” recordings that allow users to experience the emotions and past experiences of others. When Lenny stumbles upon a playback clip that could be of crucial importance, he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that could alter the city’s future.
Strange Days, like Blade Runner, is a futuristic noir that explores themes of memory and reality. It also shares a similar dystopian setting and scrutinizes advancing technology on society.
Akira is arguably as close as you’re going to get to something that feels like Blade Runner. Set in a dystopian future of Neo-Tokyo in 2019, the plot follows a biker gang leader called Kaneda, whose friend Tetsuo gains telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, leading him to a government conspiracy and an encounter with the city’s buried past.
Akira and Blade Runner share a dystopian setting that revels in societal decay. There’s also a fascinating undertone here that sees both movies examine the effects of unchecked technological advancements and power.
There we have it, our list of best movies that are similar to Blade Runner. What do you think about our picks? Did one of your favourites make the list? Let us know in the comments below!