Sequel has long been the dirty word of Hollywood with the majority of sequels being born from a financial perspective rather than it growing naturally from the story of the original film. Why would big movie studios push to produce original and risky ideas when they can just make a follow up to a box office hit and be guaranteed a lucrative film? It’s why Hollywood is so desperate to launch franchises and confirm a profitable future. But sometimes, when the pool of mundane franchise ideas has dried up, they take a look into the past.
So, 34 years after its initial release, Blade Runner is getting a sequel and I’m not totally in love with the idea. This is a project that has been long gestating, with both Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford expressing interest in producing a sequel many times over the years, but has only picked up steam in the last couple months with the Internet buzzing with casting rumours. The big news is that Harrison Ford has been confirmed to be reprising his role as Rick Deckard as well as Ryan Gosling being announced as a lead. Ford isn’t the only one returning with Michael Green and Hampton Fletcher, screenwriters of the original, also being confirmed to pen the script.
Notably absent from the Blade Runner reunion is Ridley Scott, having recently announced that he is too busy working on the Prometheus sequel, Alien: Covenant, to head the film, with Denis Villeneave (Prisoners, Sicario) taking over the directors chair and Scott settling for an executive producer credit. The production company behind the Blade Runner sequel has also confirmed the casting of Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre) in unspecified roles. There is very little actually known about the story except a rumoured title of Androids Dream.
The original Blade Runner was released in 1982 and was a loose adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Set in a deliciously neo-noir dystopian future, Blade Runner depicts a world in which genetically engineered replicants, who are visually indistinguishable from humans, are utilised for dangerous and menial work on off-world colonies, having being banned for use on Earth. The film told the story of Rick Deckard reluctantly coming out of retirement, as an expert Blade Runner, to hunt down six escaped replicants and ‘retire’ them. Ridley Scott expertly examined humanity and raised questions over the moral implications of human mastery of genetic engineering, as well as questioning the morality of Deckard himself, in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.
My instinctual reaction to the news of a sequel is to admonish it and sulk about the prospect of Hollywood ruining one of my favourite films. Blade Runner works so well as a stand-alone film and is viewed as this masterpiece of the genre; I just don’t want to see the name tarnished in the pursuit of money. However, I can’t help but be impressed by the casting news of the sequel and intrigued by the reports that Ryan Gosling is in fact the lead character, as opposed to Harrison Ford. I mean, the man is 73 years old; there are only so many franchises he can juggle.
Blade Runner 2 has a tentative release date of January 12th 2018, with filming set to begin this July. Here’s hoping that they don’t mess it up.