Blade Runner 2 – Blade Runner 2049 – Rick Deckard Returns!
The New Title
On the 6th October 2016 I received a notification from Facebook to say that the Blade Runner page had changed its name to Blade Runner 2049, and the above cover photo was emblazoned across the top once I clicked on it…We now had the new title for Blade Runner 2 one of the most anticipated sequels in cinema history, not to mention a sequel to my favourite film of all time!
Not only that we were given the above photo of Harrison Ford, Ridley Scott, Ryan Gosling, and sequel director Denis Villenueve presumably off set, which at first glance just looked like the guys having a chat perhaps in a hotel room. On closer inspection one can spot the famous Rick Deckard gun and his whiskey tumbler, along with an as yet unidentified gun, perhaps this is the new Blade Runner’s weapon of choice, could that be Ryan’s?
This is of course not the first piece of Replicant information to be released regarding the new project, back in July 2016 Entertainment Weekly revealed some news and exclusive concept art (as seen above) that looks very promising. The cityscapes depicted seem to capture the same feel of the original Blade Runner, but of course updated somewhat looking a bit sleeker, though I do hope this doesn’t mean we will loose the grungy feel of L.A and Syd Mead‘s retrofitted buildings. It must be said that the yellow vehicle depicted (see below for more on this) looks to be pitched perfectly, referencing the original’s public transportation vehicle’s colour, naturally drenched in perpetual rain.
Joining Mr Ford for his return as Rick Deckard the first new casting to be revealed was Ryan Gosling, we do not know in what role as with the rest of the casting, but having seen his performance in Drive one could imagine that he would be ideally cast as a Replicant or indeed as someone who would retire them. In August Variety reported that the new Joker Jared Leto would also be joining the cast of Blade Runner 2049, perhaps he will be portraying a Replicant in the same vein as Roy Batty, a mad poet man child looking for more life and the answers to it? I’ll leave out the shocking 30 Seconds To Mars joke I’m attempting to shoe horn in here, something about Off World? OK yes I’ll get my coat!
There are four striking young actresses in the cast who again look to be perfect casting for Replicants; Ana de Armas (check out those eyes), Mackenzie Davis (Pris-esque), Sylvia Hoeks, and Carla Juri, along with talented screen veteran Robin Wright (I’m really interested to see what her character is), plus Hiam Abbass. Rounding out the male cast is ex WCW wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista (who you will know from Guardians of the Galaxy), David Dastmalchian, Barkhad Abdi, plus Lennie James of Snatch fame! All but James I’m sure would be age appropriate to play a skin job, with his unique features I could also picture Abdi as a JF Sebastian type character left on earth.
Due to its iconic place in cinema history and far reaching influence since its release in 1982, the sequel is likely to have many fans engaged in working on it. Ryan Gosling confirmed this in a recent interview with Sirius XM and director Denis Villenueve holds the film responsible for his chosen career, which is very reassuring.
“I remember the opening sequence perfectly,” Villeneuve says, adding that he’s seen the movie “thousands of times” and knows it by heart. “That note of music; seeing Los Angeles in 2019; that smog; that darkness. It’s really the movie that gave birth to my desire to become a director.” So the personal stakes were high when he was asked to direct the sequel, which he was apprehensive about even after accepting the job (a moment of pre-production he calls his “terror period”).
But then he had coffee with Hampton Fancher, responsible for turning Philip K. Dick’s 1968’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into the Blade Runner screenplay. “He told me that Blade Runner was a dream. We just have to dream again and not worry too much about logic. That removed so much pressure and gave me the key to move forward.”
Plot details, written by Fancher and Michael Green, are being closely guarded, but the director confirms to EW that events take place several decades after the original. The setting is once again a future Los Angeles, albeit one that spreads over much of the West Coast. “The climate has gone berserk – the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic,” Villeneuve says. The vehicle pictured in this exclusive concept art from the sequel, Villeneuve says, is a kind of snow blower that hovers over the streets and destroys snow. He laughs. “It’s a Canadian wet dream!”
Ryan Gosling costars with Ford, who is back as runner Rick Deckard – ”he’s full of wisdom and good advice,” according to the filmmaker. Ridley Scott serves as an executive producer, while Roger Deakins, who last teamed with Villeneuve on last year’s Sicario, serves as DP. “It’s a great team and spirits are very high,” Villenevue says. “Failure is not an option.”
Too Many Cooks?
It is a great shame that Ridley Scott isn’t returning to direct Blade Runner 2049 as he is busy with his next project Alien: Covenant but the good news is he has had a hand in the story along with Fancher. This is heartening as the friction between Fancher and Scott whilst working on the original film is well documented, so the fact that they have got their heads together and agreed means it has to be a great story and one that they are both proud to be telling. Scott is also attached to the project as Executive Producer therefore he will be following production closely and no doubt offering his creative and budgetary advice where necessary. My only slight concern is the sheer number of producers attached to the project, a grand total of 12 (not including Bud Yorkin‘s posthumous credit), which I hope doesn’t mean Villenueve comes up against the same issues that Scott had back in ’82 of constantly battling with too many cooks on set. That being said triumph can come through adversity and it certainly did for Scott, perhaps some T-Shirts will be printed up again…”Alright guvnor my ass!”
I don’t think it would have been worth making a sequel had Harrison Ford not agreed to return as Rick Deckard, and considering his at times uncomfortable relationship with the project during its filming and in the intervening years, it has to be confirmation that its a strong idea for him even to consider coming back at all. Ridley Scott has gone so far as to quote him thusly; “Harrison said, ‘Meh,’ and I said, ‘No, read this.’ And I think he said, ‘This is the best script I’ve ever had.’ We’ve been working on it for a couple of years.”
Ford was seen recently with a pretty epic beard leading me to think that perhaps Deckard is some kind of hermit now, who perhaps Gosling’s character tracks down for help? But now he’s been pictured on set in Budapest without it I’m guessing this face fuzz idea was abandoned (like these ideas often are at the behest of producers) so the audiences gets to see the famous face they have paid for, or perhaps it was just a cold summer in Wyoming? Judging by the Omaze video taken on set he won’t be shying away from the action either (as if he would), I’m sure it’s make up but you can clearly see a graze on his forehead.
The Opening Sequence
In the indispensable documentary Dangerous Days – The Making Of Blade Runner (find it in the Final Cut boxset) Hampton Fancher talks passionately about the original opening sequence that was eventually excised due to budgetary constraints, so it seems only right that now he is part of the follow up’s team that the sequence will at last be shot. This is the only confirmed information with regards to any scenes in Blade Runner 2049, speaking at the AFI Festival Ridley Scott described the scene and that it would be making its way into the new film. Since the casting has been announced he may have also retrospectively and inadvertently let slip Batista’s role in the film, “a big man.”
“We decided to start the film off with the original starting block of the original film. We always loved the idea of a dystopian universe, and we start off at what I describe as a ‘factory farm’ – what would be a flat land with farming. Wyoming. Flat, not rolling – you can see for 20 miles. No fences, just plowed, dry dirt. Turn around and you see a massive tree, just dead, but the tree is being supported and kept alive by wires that are holding the tree up. It’s a bit like Grapes of Wrath, there’s dust, and the tree is still standing. By that tree is a traditional, Grapes of Wrath-type white cottage with a porch. Behind it at a distance of two miles, in the twilight, is this massive combine harvester that’s fertilizing this ground. You’ve got 16 Klieg lights on the front, and this combine is four times the size of this cottage. And now a spinner [a flying car] comes flying in, creating dust. Of course, traditionally chased by a dog that barks, the doors open, a guy gets out and there you’ve got Rick Deckard. He walks in the cottage, opens the door, sits down, smells stew, sits down and waits for the guy to pull up to the house to arrive. The guy’s seen him, so the guy pulls the combine behind the cottage and it towers three stories above it, and the man climbs down from a ladder – a big man. He steps onto the balcony and he goes to Harrison’s side. The cottage actually [creaks]; this guy’s got to be 350 pounds. I’m not going to say anything else – you’ll have to go see the movie.”
Memories of Vangelis
I’m sure I am not the only fan that is tremendously disappointed to learn that the legendary Vangelis is not returning to score the follow up, his music is so deeply connected with the visuals of Blade Runner that it is virtually impossible to imagine anyone else creating it. As yet it is unconfirmed whether he was even approached to return when Scott was originally slated to direct, or if he was considered by Villeneuve. I have reached out to Vangelis’ official facebook page for a statement so hopefully I will get a response I can share with you all here. Long time Villeneuve collaborator Jóhann Jóhannsson will be providing the score, he is more than capable of creating beautiful music, and has dabbled with electronica in the past so he has the ability to knock this one out of the park. I just hope we get a few references to the original music. Completely new scores have been known to work for sequels however, I was completely blown away by Daft Punk‘s Tron; Legacy soundtrack so who knows?
The Final Cut Is The Deepest
There is no doubt that the Blade Runner 2049 team have absolutely gigantic boots to fill with this film, and I’m sure they all feel the weight of the original film bearing down on them, and so they should. For me the original is an absolutely perfect film in every way, and that does not really need the story extending beyond its closure point, so I have a lot of feelings of dread about this sequel. I also can’t help but be excited by the fact it’s actually happening, its a great time to be a Harrison Ford fan he’s brought back Indiana Jones (and will again in 2019), and Han Solo in recent years, which is something I thought I’d never see. So to see what will happen next for Rick Deckard is an opportunity that will be too good to pass up, Villeneuve said it best really, “Failure is not an option”, but we’ll have to wait until 6th October 2017 to find out.
Do Fanboys Dream?
Finally, after some of the incredible work that Omaze has done with Star Wars and other franchises to raise money for charity and give a handful of very lucky fans a chance to visit production sets, in the past few days they have announced a chance that every Blade Runner fan would retire for. If you win will you take me with you, it would be quite a fitting end to Finding Ford‘s persuits don’t you think? Now over to the man himself to tell you all about it…
May The Ford Be With You,