Everything we know about Blade Runner 2049

Check in with the continuing adventures of Rick Deckard and his cursed Replicant ilk.

Words

Phil W Bayles

A sequel to Blade Runner has been bouncing around the inner chambers of Hollywood for nearly a decade, but at long last we really will be returning to the world dreamt up by director Ridley Scott and author Philip K Dick. With Variety recently reporting that Robin Wright is set to join the cast, we’ve headed on a miniature treasure hunt in search of every scrap of information we can about this highly anticipated/feared/controversial [delete as applicable] sci-fi blockbuster.

Scott first brought up the possibility of a Blade Runner sequel at Comic-Con in 2007, and since then the potential blueprint has gone through several different iterations. In 2009, the New York Times reported that he and his brother Tony were working on a series of web shorts collectively titled Purefold, which would serve as a prequel of sorts to the original. However, the connection was to be tangential at best: Ag8, the studio set to make the series, had no rights to any material from Philip K Dick’s estate.

After Purefold was shelved the following year due to financial problems, Warner Bros began looking at potential cinematic prequels and sequels. Christopher Nolan, hot off the commercial success of The Dark Knight Rises, was put forward as a possible choice for director.

But in August of 2011, Scott announced he was back on the project, adding that it would start filming no later than 2013. Considering Scott’s schedule at that point included promotion of his Alien prequel Prometheus, working on The Counsellor with Cormac McCarthy, and beginning development of Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, his plan could charitably be described as optimistic. As his sights turned to Andy Weir’s novel ‘The Martian’ in 2014, Scott moved to a producer role, his successor at that point uncertain.

Enter Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners, Enemy and most recently Sicario. Villeneuve is a director who enjoys sticking to the shadows, both visually and thematically, so his appointment made perfect sense considering the rain-slick neo-noir tones of the original. Add cinematographer Roger Deakins to the mix, who worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners and Sicario and earned two Oscar nominations for his trouble, and the prospect only becomes more exciting.

Some more of the old guard will be returning: Hampton Fancher, writer of the original Blade Runner, has developed the story with him, and they’ll be working on it together with Heroes and Green Lantern writer Michael Green. The most exciting is the news that Harrison Ford will be returning to reprise the role of bounty hunter (and possible Replicant) Rick Deckard.

But what will his role be? Ryan Gosling, who joined the cast in November, seems to be our nominal lead, so it makes sense to cast Deckard as some kind of older mentor type – but Scott has dropped hints that he won’t be turning up until the third act of the movie. So will he be joining the action as Han Solo did in The Force Awakens? Or will he be the Luke Skywalker to Ryan Gosling’s Rey, a near-mythic figure from whom the protagonist seeks answers?

Very little of the story has been revealed so far: Scott has hinted at a sequence taking place in the Wyoming dust-bowl that was intended for the original film. Could this serve as the opening scene? What we do know, however, raises tantalising questions. It’s been established that the story takes place decades after the original story which was set in 2019.

Considering the film’s Replicants are given a lifespan of only four years, this throws into sharp relief the old debate – not helped by conflicting answers in different cuts of the film – of whether Rick Deckard was himself a Replicant (or at least the common garden variety Replicant). Not even the people who made the film can agree on this one: Scott insists that Deckard was not human, while Ford is equally adamant that he is. Villeneuve has so far refrained from choosing sides, but has promised that the issue will be “taken care of.”

There’s no hint yet of the role that Robin Wright will come to play, but it’s certain that any scrap of information that comes out in the days and months to follow. Blade Runner remains a behemoth of science fiction cinema. Loyal fans will be watching its production with the intensity of someone administering the Voight-Kampff test. Principal photography is expected to start in July, with the aim of releasing the film in late 2017.

Published 1 Apr 2016

Tags: Blade Runner Harrison Ford Ryan Gosling

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