Blade Runner 2049

Last updated on 16 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green.[7] A sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner, the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto in supporting roles. Set thirty years after the original film, the story depicts a bioengineered human named K, who discovers the remains of a once-pregnant replicant. To prevent a possible war between replicants and humans, K is secretly tasked with finding the child and destroying all evidence related to it.

Principal photography took place in Budapest, Hungary between July and November 2016. Blade Runner 2049 premiered in Los Angeles on October 3, 2017 and was released in the United States on October 6, 2017, in 2D, 3D and IMAX.[8][9][10][11]

Blade Runner 2049 poster.png
Blade Runner 2049 poster.png

Plot

In 2049, bioengineered humans called replicants have been integrated into society as servants and slaves. K, a newer replicant model created to obey, works as a "blade runner" for the LAPD, hunting down and "retiring" rogue older model replicants. His home life is spent with his holographic girlfriend Joi, an artificial intelligence product of Wallace Corporation.

K's investigation into a growing replicant freedom movement leads him to a farm, where he retires rogue replicant Sapper Morton and finds a buried box. Forensic analysis reveals the box contains the remains of a female replicant who died as the result of complications from an emergency caesarean section. K finds this unsettling as pregnancy in replicants was originally thought to be impossible.

K is ordered to destroy all evidence related to the case and to retire the child by his superior, Lieutenant Joshi, who believes the knowledge that replicants are able to reproduce to be dangerous and could lead to war. K, disturbed by his orders to kill a born individual, visits the headquarters of Wallace Corporation founder Niander Wallace, who identifies the body as Rachael, an experimental replicant. In the process, he learns of her romantic ties with former veteran blade runner Rick Deckard. Believing that reproduction in replicants can bolster his production and expand his off-world operations, but lacking the technology to give them this ability himself, Wallace sends his replicant enforcer Luv to steal Rachael's remains from LAPD headquarters and follow K to find Rachael's child.

Returning to Morton's farm, K finds a hidden date that matches a childhood memory about hiding a toy horse, which he later finds at an orphanage, suggesting that his memories—which he thought were implants—are real. Joi insists this is evidence that K is in fact a real person. While searching birth records for that year, he discovers that twins were born on that day with identical DNA except for the sex chromosome; only the boy is listed as alive. K seeks out Dr. Ana Stelline, a memory designer who informs him that it is illegal to program replicants with humans' real memories, leading K to believe he might be Rachael's son. After failing a test of his replicant behavior, K is suspended by Joshi, but he explains that he failed the test because he completed his mission in killing the child. Joshi gives him 48 hours to disappear. K transfers Joi to a mobile emitter despite knowing if it is damaged she will be erased. Undeterred, K has the toy horse analyzed and finds traces of radiation that lead him to the ruins of Las Vegas, where he finds Deckard. Deckard reveals that he scrambled the birth records to cover his tracks and was forced to leave a pregnant Rachael with the replicant freedom movement to protect her.

Luv and her men murder Joshi, track K's location and arrive to kidnap Deckard. They leave a badly injured K for dead and destroy Joi's emitter. He is later rescued by the replicant freedom movement who were also tracking him. He is told by their leader, Freysa, that he is wrong to think that he has a unique role to fulfill in the movement, and that Rachael's child is actually a girl. K deduces that Stelline is Deckard's daughter, as she is the only one capable of creating the memory and implanting it into him. Freysa urges K to prevent Wallace from uncovering the secrets of replicant reproduction by any means necessary, including killing Deckard.

In Los Angeles, Deckard is brought before Wallace, who suggests Rachael's feelings for him were engineered by Tyrell to test the possibility of a replicant becoming pregnant. When Deckard refuses to cooperate, Wallace has Luv escort him to off-world outposts to be tortured for information. K intercepts them, fighting and killing Luv and staging Deckard's death to protect him from both Wallace and the replicants. He leads Deckard to Stelline's office and laments that his best memories belong to her. Deckard cautiously enters the office and approaches Stelline, while K succumbs to his wounds.[12]

Cast

Ana de Armas additionally portrays various holographic advertisements for the "Joi" line. Sylvia Hoeks briefly portrays a separate replicant, killed in front of Luv by Niander Wallace. Archival footage, audio and stills of Sean Young from the original film are used to represent her character of Rachael.[13] Additionally, Sean Young's likeness was digitally superimposed onto stand-in actress Loren Peta, who was coached by Young on how to recreate her performance, in order to briefly portray Rachael in a hallucination had by Deckard, and to portray the "Rachael Replacement Double", a replicant designed by Niander Wallace to be physically identical to the original Rachael. While Deckard declared the real Rachael had had green eyes, this may have been a ruse, as Sean Young has brown eyes; evident in the original film. (They did appear green on the screen of the Voigt-Kampff.) The voice of the Rachael Replacement Double was created with the use of a sound-alike actress to Sean Young.[14]

Production

Development

Denis Villeneuve, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas %26 Sylvia Hoeks (35809515700).jpg
Director Denis Villeneuve (at left) with the cast at San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Development of a sequel to Blade Runner began in 1999 when British filmmaker Stuart Hazeldine had written a rejected sequel based on K. W. Jeter's novel The Edge of Human, titled Blade Runner Down; however this early rewrite was shelved due to concerns around the rights to the novel.[15]

In 2007, Ridley Scott, who had directed the original film, considered developing a sequel, tentatively titled Metropolis, and stated his interest while attending San Diego Comic Con in that year.[15][16] Co-writer Travis Adam Wright worked with producer Bud Yorkin for several years on the project. His colleague John Glenn, who had left the project by 2008, stated the script would explore the nature of the off-world colonies as well as what happens to the Tyrell Corporation in the wake of its founder's death.[17]

In June 2009, The New York Times reported that Scott and his brother, director Tony Scott, were working on a Blade Runner prequel, Purefold, set in 2019. The prequel was planned as a series of 5–10 minute shorts, aimed first at the web and then perhaps television. Due to rights problems, the series was not to be linked too closely to the characters or events of the 1982 film.[18] On February 7, 2010, it was announced that production on Purefold had ceased, due to funding problems.[19] On March 4, 2011, the website io9 reported that Yorkin was developing a new Blade Runner film.[20] It was also reported that month that Christopher Nolan was desired as director.[21]

On August 18, 2011, it was announced that Ridley Scott would lead the production of a new Blade Runner film, although work would not begin until at least 2013. Producer Andrew A. Kosove suggested that Harrison Ford, who had starred in the original film, was unlikely to be involved.[22][23] Scott said that the film was "liable to be a sequel" but without the previous cast, and that he was close to finding a writer that "might be able to help [him] deliver".[24] On February 6, 2012, Kosove stated: "It is absolutely, patently false that there has been any discussion about Harrison Ford being in Blade Runner. To be clear, what we are trying to do with Ridley now is go through the painstaking process of trying to break the back of the story ... The casting of the movie could not be further from our minds at this moment."[25] When Scott was asked about the possibility of a sequel in October 2012, he said, "It's not a rumor—it's happening. With Harrison Ford? I don't know yet. Is he too old? Well, he was a Nexus-6 so we don't know how long he can live. And that's all I'm going to say at this stage."[26]

Scott said in November 2014 that he would not direct the film and would instead produce; that filming would begin in late 2014 or 2015, and that Ford's character would only appear in "the third act" of the sequel.[27] On February 26, 2015, the sequel was confirmed, with Denis Villeneuve as its director. Ford was confirmed to be returning as Deckard; so too original writer Hampton Fancher. The film was expected to enter production in mid-2016.[28]

Pre-production

On April 16, 2015, Ryan Gosling entered negotiations for a role.[29] Gosling confirmed in November 2015 that he had been cast, citing the involvement of Villeneuve and the cinematographer Roger Deakins as factors for his decision;[30] Deakins was hired as director of photography on May 20, 2016.[31] Principal photography was set to begin in July, with Warner Bros. distributing the film domestically, and Sony Pictures Releasing distributing internationally.[32] On February 18, 2016, an official release date of January 12, 2018 was announced.[33]

On March 31, 2016, Robin Wright entered final negotiations for a role in the film,[34] and on April 2, Dave Bautista posted a picture of himself with an origami unicorn, hinting at a role in the film.[35] Bautista and Wright were confirmed to be joining the cast on April 4, and a filming start date of July was established.[36] In late April 2016, the film's release date was moved up to October 6, 2017,[37] as well as Ana de Armas and Sylvia Hoeks being added to the cast.[38][39] Carla Juri was cast in May 2016.[40] In June, Mackenzie Davis and Barkhad Abdi were cast,[41][42] with David Dastmalchian, Hiam Abbass and Lennie James joining in July.[43][44] Jared Leto was cast in the film in August; Villeneuve had hoped to cast David Bowie, but Bowie died before production began.[45][46] In March 2017, Edward James Olmos confirmed he was in the film in a sequence playing his original character, Gaff.[47]

When interviewed at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Villeneuve had noted that the plot would be ambiguous as to the question of Deckard being a human or a replicant.[48] In an interview,[49] Villeneuve mentioned that the film is set a few decades after the original. It would again take place in Los Angeles, and the Earth's atmosphere would be different, he said: "The climate has gone berserk – the ocean, the rain, the snow is all toxic."[50] It was announced that Scott would be executive producer.[51]

Filming

Principal photography took place between July and November 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.[52][53][54] On August 25, 2016, a construction worker was killed while dismantling one of the film's sets at Origo Studios.[55]

Post-production

Warner Bros. announced in early October 2016 that the film would be titled Blade Runner 2049.[56] Editing commenced in December in Los Angeles, with the intention of having the film being rated R.[54] At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Villeneuve said that the film would run for approximately two-and-a-half hours.[57]

Soundtrack

Rapper-producer El-P was asked to compose music for the first Blade Runner 2049 trailer, but his score was "rejected or ignored".[58] Jóhann Jóhannsson, who had worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival, was initially announced as composer for the film.[59] However, Villeneuve and Jóhannsson decided to end the collaboration because Villeneuve considered the "movie needed something different, and I needed to go back to something closer to Vangelis"'s soundtrack.[60] New composers Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch joined in July 2017. In September, Jóhannsson's agent confirmed that he was no longer involved and that he was contractually forbidden from commenting on the situation.[61]

The soundtrack album was released on October 5, 2017.[62][63] A physical two-disc CD version of the soundtrack by Epic Records will be released in the United States on October 27, 2017. There are two editions of the CD release and each edition is limited to 2049 copies. Both editions are hand numbered to 2049 but each contains different cover artwork to differentiate the two.[64]

All tracks written by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.

Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "2049" 3:37
2. "Sapper's Tree" 1:36
3. "Flight to LAPD" 1:47
4. "Summer Wind -(Frank Sinatra)" 2:54
5. "Rain" 2:26
6. "Wallace" 5:23
7. "Memory" 2:32
8. "Mesa" 3:10
9. "Orphanage" 1:13
10. "Furnace" 3:41
11. "Someone Lived This" 3:13
12. "Joi" 3:51
13. "Pilot" 2:17
14. "Suspicious Minds -(Elvis Presley)" 4:22
15. "Can't Help Falling in Love -(Elvis Presley & The Jordanaires)" 3:02
16. "One For My Baby (And One More For the Road) -(Frank Sinatra)" 4:24
17. "Hijack" 5:32
18. "That's Why We Believe" 3:36
19. "Her Eyes Were Green" 6:17
20. "Sea Wall" 9:52
21. "All the Best Memories Are Hers" 3:22
22. "Tears In the Rain" 2:10
23. "Blade Runner" 10:05
24. "Almost Human (From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack "Blade Runner 2049") -(Lauren Daigle)" 3:22

Release

Blade Runner 2049 premiered on October 3, 2017 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, although following the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting, the red carpet events were cancelled prior to the screening.[65] It was the opening feature at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montreal the following day.[66] It also was premiered in Switzerland at the Zurich Film Festival on October 4, 2017.[67]

Sony Pictures Releasing, who had obtained rights to release the film in overseas territories,[68] was the first to release Blade Runner 2049 in theaters, first in France and Belgium on October 4, 2017,[67] then in other countries on the two following days.[67] The film was released by Warner Bros. domestically in the United States on October 6, 2017.[67] In addition to standard 2D and 3D formats, Blade Runner 2049 was released in IMAX theaters.[69] Also, Alcon Entertainment partnered with Oculus VR to create and distribute content for the film exclusively for its virtual reality format and launched it alongside the theatrical release of October 6, 2017.[70]

Due to the popularity and preference of IMAX in 2D (as opposed to 3D) among moviegoers in North America, the film was shown in IMAX theaters in only 2D domestically, but was screened in 3D formats internationally.[71]

The film is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "violence, some sexuality, nudity, and language".[72] Leading into the film's release, Villeneuve told Europa Plus the theatrical version would be his only version, unlike the original, and any potential alternate versions would be made by someone else.[73]

Marketing

Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures jointly released an announcement teaser on December 19, 2016.[74][75] A selection of excerpts (lasting 15 seconds) were released as a trailer tease on May 5, 2017 in the lead up to the full trailer, which was released on May 8, 2017.[76] A second trailer was released on July 17, 2017.[77]

Three short films have been made to explore events that occur in the 30-year period between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049:

  • 2036: Nexus Dawn is directed by Luke Scott, and follows Niander Wallace as he presents a new Nexus-9 replicant to lawmakers in an attempt to have a prohibition on replicants lifted. The short film also stars Benedict Wong as one of the lawmakers.[78][79]
  • 2048: Nowhere to Run, also directed by Scott, follows Sapper Morton as he protects a mother and daughter from thugs.[80]
  • Blade Runner Black Out 2022, is an anime directed by Shinichirō Watanabe[81] wherein a rogue replicant named Iggy carries out an operation to detonate a nuclear warhead over Los Angeles, triggering an electromagnetic pulse that erases the Tyrell Corporation's database of registered replicants. Edward James Olmos reprises his role as Gaff in this film. Flying Lotus composed the soundtrack; Watanabe had used his music as a temp score in making a rough cut of the short.[82]

Reception

Box office

As of October 13, 2017, Blade Runner 2049 had grossed $49.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $49.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $99 million, against a production budget of $150 million.[6]

In the United States and Canada, the film was initially projected to gross $43–50 million from 4,058 theaters in its opening weekend. In September 2017, a survey from Fandango indicated that the film was one of the most anticipated releases of the season.[83] It made $4 million from Thursday night previews, including $800,000 from IMAX, but just $12.6 million on its first day, lowering weekend estimates to $32–35 million.[84] It made $11.4 million on Saturday and went on to debut to $32.8 million, well below initial projections but still finishing first at the box office and marking the biggest openings of Villeneuve and Gosling's careers. Deadline.com attributed the film's performance to the 163-minute runtime limiting the number of showtimes theaters could have, as well as being unappealing to audiences, and the marketing being vague and relying on nostalgia and established fanbase to carry it.[85]

Overseas, it was expected to debut to an additional $60 million from 62 countries, for a worldwide opening of around $100 million.[4] It ended up making $50.2 million internationally, finishing number one in 42 markets, for a global opening of $81.7 million. It made $8 million in the United Kingdom, $4.9 million in Russia and $3.6 million in Australia.[86]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 282 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right."[87] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[88] Critics who saw the film before its release were asked by Villeneuve not to reveal certain characters and plot points.[89] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A– on an A+ to F scale.[84]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it an instant classic and writing: "For Blade Runner junkies like myself, who've mainlined five different versions of Ridley Scott's now iconic sci-fi film noir, [...] every minute of this mesmerizing mindbender is a visual feast to gorge on."[90] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, praising the production design, cinematography and score, and calling the CGI some of the best he had ever seen, writing: "It just has to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. Blade Runner 2049 is a narcotic spectacle of eerie and pitiless vastness, by turns satirical, tragic and romantic."[91] A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as "a carefully engineered narrative puzzle" that "tries both to honor the original and to slip free of its considerable shadow", and mostly succeeds. He found it, though, ultimately unequal to the original, describing Blade Runner 2049 as "a more docile, less rebellious 'improvement'". He also lauded Villeneuve's direction to which he attributed an "unnerving calm, as if he were exploring and trying to synthesize the human and mechanical sides of his own sensibility", as well as the cinematography and visual effects, which he describes as "zones of strangeness that occasionally rise to the level of sublimity".[92]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film an A- rating, saying: "Blade Runner 2049 may not reinvent the rules for blockbuster storytelling, but it manages to inject the form with the ambitions of high art, maintaining a thrilling intensity along the way."[93] Scott Collura of IGN awarded the film a score of 9.7 out of 10 and called it one of the best sequels ever, saying: "2049 plays off of the themes, plot, and characters of the 1982 movie without cannibalizing it or negating or retroactively ruining any of those elements. Rather, it organically expands and grows what came before. It's a deep, rich, smart film that's visually awesome and full of great sci-fi concepts, and one that was well worth the 35-year wait."[94] Mick LaSalle of San Francisco Chronicle rated the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, labeling the film as a "quiet, thoughtful science fiction" while drawing a similarity on its tone to Villeneuve's recent film, Arrival and praising the performances, particularly Gosling and Ford.[95]

Christopher Orr writing for The Atlantic found the sequel to be a faithful and worthwhile continuation of the original film stating: "This is in part because, like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is a decidedly cool artifact, and not primarily an actors' film. Villeneuve's most important collaborators are the cinematographer Roger Deakins and the production designer Dennis Gassner, who between them conjure a future world breathtaking in its decrepitude, a gorgeous ruin. From the grayed-out countrysides over which the sky has closed like a lid; to the drizzly neon decadence of Los Angeles; to a San Diego refashioned as a waste dump worthy of WALL-E; to the Ozymandian wreckage of Las Vegas—the film is a splendor of the first order."[96]

John Serba in his review for Mlive also saw the film as a worthy successor and continuation of the original film and capable of standing next to other strong films in this genre such as the 1927 Metropolis, stating: "Blade Runner 2049 is a feast for the eyes and intellect, and for more patient audiences. It broods so intently and for so long, its occasional bursts of violent action break the film's exquisitely meditative constitution. A key atmospheric component is the thrumming synthesizer score, by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, emulating Vangelis' masterful original."[97]

Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post put emphasis on the depiction of the villain-aspects of the industrialist played by Jared Leto stating: "In the world of 2049, there are now two kinds of replicants, in addition to people: the old, rogue versions, and a newer, more subservient variety designed by a godlike industrialist (Jared Leto portraying Wallace), who refers to his products, tellingly, as good and bad 'angels.'".[98]

The Economist was more critical of the film, calling it a "bombastic sequel" and noting its "thin and threadbare" storyline, which was "riddled with holes", and the "little more than a cameo" appearance of Ford, despite his being used heavily in the film's promotion.[99]

Accolades

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
IndieWire Critic's Poll December 19, 2016 Most Anticipated of 2017 Blade Runner 2049 Won [100][101]
Golden Trailer Awards June 6, 2017 Best Teaser Blade Runner 2049 Won [102]

Possible sequel

In September 2015, Ridley Scott expressed interest in making additional films.[103] In October 2017, Villeneuve said that he expected a third film would be made if 2049 was successful. Hampton Fancher, the writer of both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, also revealed that he was considering reviving an old story idea involving Deckard travelling to another country, and Ford said that he would be open to returning if he liked the script.[104]

See also

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