Blade Runner has been called “the official nightmare of Los Angeles”, yet this dystopian vision is in many ways a city planner’s dream come true. Finally, a vibrant street life. A downtown crowded with nighttime strollers. Neon beyond our wildest dreams. Only a Unabomber could find this totally repellant.
The streets are littered with electronic parking meters, but there are no cars parked next to them. The VTOL has replaced the SUV, but there are no traffic jams in the sky. The hero, Deckard, drives his car home from his job downtown, yet when he pulls into the grounds of the hundred-story apartment building where he lives, he finds a parking place right next to the front door. Apparently, he is the only tenant with a car.
Blade Runner is easy to criticize […] yet Blade Runner continues to fascinate. Perhaps it expresses a nostalgia for a dystopian vision of the future that has become outdated. This vision offered some consolation, because it was at least sublime. Now the future looks brighter, hotter, and blander. Buffalo will become Miami, and Los Angeles will become Death Valley, at least until the rising ocean tides wash it away.
Computers will get faster, and we will get slower. There will be plenty of progress, but few of us will be any better off or happier for it. Robots won’t be sexy and dangerous, they’ll be dull and efficient, and they’ll take our jobs.
— Thom Andersen (2003)