Yesterday evening, Harry posted this incoming message to his movie page. It’s about the often-rumored (but never solidified) notion of a sequel to Ridley Scott’s "Blade Runner" being produced.
Here’s the message Harry initially posted.
BLADE RUNNER 2!!!
The Mexican Bela Lugosi reported in with this bit about a possible BLADE RUNNER 2. Now read the below, and send Glen and email at email@example.com telling him to write up a big update about Blade Runner 2. Apparently he's hoarding the info, like those delicious rice patties covered with sardine can juice. Gosh he's evil. But seriously, email him to put something up about it. I can't because I'm leaving town for a secret mission, I'll report from abroad tomorrow night. However, my Jack Pierce make-up kit is ready and I'm going in full throttle.
I opened the pages of my "Sight & Sound' magazine which arrived today, imported from the U.K.:
Plans are reportedly afoot, perhaps with European backing, for a sequel to BLADE RUNNER, the film which went from good rather than spectactular box-office business and decidedly mixed reviews to becoming a defining moment of late twentieth-century cinema.
Of course, the sequel could turn out to be as much of a damp squib as Tom Savini's 1990 remake of George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (in colour, so it never had a chance) or, indeed, THE GODFATHER PART 3. But since the whole thing is very much at the ideas stage, could Mr. Busy suggest that the new film spend as much time as possible in wide shot and deal with the plot as economically as it can. It's the "look," after all, that has made BLADE RUNNER a classic. And that, perhaps, is one thing we can do a lot better now than we could in the early 80s.
There you go, obviously a supercynical philistine, that Mr. Busy, but we over here have more faith, right?
The Mexican Bela Lugosi, Abel Salazar)
Later in the day, Harry received the another bit of news about "Blade Runner 2":
"Just thought that you should know that some model kit manufacturers have already been offered the license to the BR2 movie. To my knowledge none of them have picked it up but the license had been offered at least a couple of months ago."
In the slipstream of all of these *apparent* goings-on in the world of sequel potentialities, Harry asked me to post what I know about a new script called "Blade Runner Down". It’s written by a guy named Stuart Hazeldine, and says it is based on the novel "Blade Runner 2" by K.W. Jeter. It should be indicated here that the background of this script is a mystery, but it is currently "making the rounds" (being circulated amongst people who read a lot of scripts), and is considered to be "legitimate" by many parties. But the alleged development of this project (if there is any) has been very, very quiet, so it’s hard to know the origin of the script, its purpose, and whether or not it will ultimately be used. With all this other stuff going on, seemed an appropriate time to say a few words about "Blade Runner Down" - which I just got through reading.
Remember the sequence in "Blade Runner" when Deckard (Harrison Ford) gets orders from Captain Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh) to go out and hunt down the "replicants" who had recently arrived on our planet from Off-World? If you pay VERY close attention to that sequence, you’ll catch an odd bit of discontinuity that serves as the central thrust of this screenplay’s story.
In both edits of "Blade Runner", Bryant tells Deckard that SIX replicants came to Earth aboard the Off-World shuttle. He tells Deckard that one of the replicants was killed trying to gain access to the Tyrell Corporation, the place the replicants were created. This means FIVE of the replicants are left alive. But Bryant only sends Deckard out to kill FOUR replicants - even makes numeric reference to "four skin jobs walking the streets", and shows Deckard videos of them - Zorah, Roy Batty, Leon Kowalski, and Pris. All things being equal, this leaves ONE of the replicants both un-named and un-accounted for. This discrepency sets into motion the story of "Blade Runner Down". Actually, when all is said and done, the story is as much about this missing replicant as it is about Decakrd and Rachel.
"Blade Runner Down" opens in the snowy woods of Oregon. Deckard and Rachel have made a humble and meager life for themselves, having escaped the hellish cityscape that was 2019 Los Angeles. It’s ten years later. They’re older. They’re free. She’s still a replicant, and her time is up.
Deckard realizes he must go back into the city - back to the Tyrell Corporation - to find the secret to keeping her alive. He does so, and is instantly detected by the police force. Turns out he’s a wanted man - he quit his job and took off with a "registered replicant". To Deckard’s horror, Blade Runners (there are many Blade Runners in this script) are immediately dispatched to "air him out". But this can’t slow him down - he’s got to fight the good fight - got to save Rachel.
After breaching Tyrell Corporation security and explaining his mission to the Tyrell powers that be, he is offered a trade. The Tyrell Corporation has found a way to keep replicants alive past their in-bred deterioration (which Rachel is suffering from). But they will only keep Rachel alive if Deckard does something for them…
That missing replicant I mentioned above? He’s very, very important to the Tyrell Corporation. For several reasons, not the least of which is he has already *outlived* his four year life span - without their help. The Tyrell folks need Deckard to bring him in, and if he does, they’ll give Rachel the "kiss of life."
And so it begins…
In this script, we see much more of the world Ridely Scott envisioned in the original film. We see parts of the city we did not see the last time around: subways, extensive animal facilities, the space port where Off-World shuttles land and depart (the scene of an ultra-violent foot chase that could put the Deckard / Zorah street chase in the first film to shame).
But "Blade Runner Down" also takes us through some familiar places and environments. We see the singing propaganda blimps again - there are some terrorists who don’t like them and pick on them constantly. The Tyrell Corporation is presented in much more vivid detail and scope (locker rooms, showers, landing pads). We re-visit Bryant’s office - now occupied by Captain Holden. If you don’t remember, Holden was the Blade Runner that got smoked at the beginning of the first film. There’s a later reference in that film to him being "able to breathe okay as long as no-one unplugs him".
Holden is now back at a *desk job*, hauling around a Frankensteinian breather-unit thingie. While functional, he appears rather horrific. In a sequence in which Deckard confronts Holden about the cops that have been sent out to "retire" Deckard once and for all, the monstrous Holden tells Deckard he’s illegal and now a wanted man because he ran off with Rachel the replicant.
"Give yourself up" insists Holden.
"I can’t do that," replies Deckard.
"Leave LA. Don’t come back" from Holden.
"I’m trying - you’re not helping. Call off your dogs" from Deckard.
Holden answers "I can’t do that."
"I am not a replicant" insists Deckard (a reference to the Blade Runners that have been sent out to terminate him).
"You took off….with a listed skin-job" from Holden.
Deckard - "I love her."
Holden - "You love IT, Deckard. Except you can’t love an IT, can you? Not really, anyway."
Deckard moves closer to Holden. "No? What are you now, Holden? A he….? An it…?"
"Blade Runner Down" is filled with little moments like this- where the tables are turned and one’s not quite sure what to expect from any given character or circumstance. In fact, there’s a surprise in the plot line that is heavily predicated on pulling the rug out from under us, and messing with our perceptions.
"Blade Runner Down" approaches the world of "Blade Runner" with great understanding and respect for the atmosphere, setting, and character-interaction which has already been established by Scott. But it also conjures a film that feels a bit different than the first installment.
Much of the script seems to take place in daylight, with occasional descriptions regarding how the BR environment would translate at a particular time of day (this is really rather intriguing and interesting). This story also feels more tense, more kinetic and intensified than the pacing of the first film. Descriptions of people being shot in the head, pools of blood, and replicant self-mutilation (sounds like a Joe Bob Briggs Drive In Totals list) bring to mind Verhoven efforts such as "RoboCop" and "Total Recall". Mad foot chases through jammed space-port concourses or busy police stations (through locker-rooms and showers and computer facilities) bring to mind the good old mad-dash steady cam days of Peter Hyams in "Outland" or "The Star Chamber".
So the question has to be asked: is it a GOOD SEQUEL to "Blade Runner"? Visually and stylistically, this story has the capacity to equal or transcend "Blade Runner". There’s a wider variety of settings, circumstances, and ambiance with which a director could work to fashion the world of Los Angeles 2029.
Is it a good story, and how does it compare with the first one?In many ways, it is more sweeping and daring than the first BR. It is grander in scale, and as indicated above, harder edged. But there is something un-focused about BRD. Not in a story sense, but in the reader’s capacity to sort through driving motivations behind the screenplay’s premise.
Perhaps this is because "Blade Runner Down" ends up being about ideas far greater than four disenfranchised replicants who are just "want to live". BRD is about making life forms to be our slaves, and a conspiracy to keep the extent of that effort from being known. It asks us to sympathize with the notion, but never really visualizes the idea for us - never gives us a Batty-like tragic figure on which we can pin our sympathies and sorrows. So we are once again left to imagine the situation against which the Off-World replicants are revolting, and left to imagine what their circumstances must have been like. We are asked to embrace esoteric conjurings instead of being give cold, hard fact.
We are asked to take at face value the notion that it is immoral and disgusting. Slavery IS, by its very nature, immoral and disgusting. But somehow, people murdering and hating in reaction to an experience that is conceptually intangible and abstract (to a vast majority of viewers) seems emotionally un-involving. Dramatically, we need to *see* what the replicants are so afraid of - we need to FEEL what they are feeling. Be it through a vision in their head or through powerful and vivid description (my preference). This would make it a lot easier for audiences to go along for the ride with these mis-understood replicants, and give "Blade Runner Down" the emotional resonance and powerful subtext it is struggling towards, but hasn’t quite attained.
The first "Blade Runner" got away without taking us into these areas because it’s story was more intimate and close-quartered. It was hard not to be affected when the one realized the film was about a man who was killing people who just wanted to stay alive. Not because they were criminals, not because they were evil incarnate - because they were made to serve us and made to die. But they’re living and breathing and want more life and more experience - more time. Notions which move every one us, and the idea that Deckard’s sole purpose in life was to snuff these people out is a coldly sobering, and in the end he is affected by this realization.
There few such transformations or lofty moments of power in "Blade Runner Down". Nothing to bring us into the SOUL of the story. There are no characters who move us the way Batty moved us. Nothing to quantify the life experiences of the replicants in BRD as being meaningful or exceptional. No one has "seen things you wouldn’t believe". No one talks of moments that will be "lost in time like tears in rain". BRD needs to rise to that next level - and *then* it will become another classic-in-waiting.
Can it get there? VERY EASILY. There are a lot of clever things going on in this script, a lot of delicate nuance and flavor that should translate magnificently to the big screen. As a whole, it is well written and sometimes even elegant. But it needs a little more heart to make it "timeless". There are some perfect places to install that hart - and then I think it will be a story completely worthy of its name.
Will "Blade Runner Down" ever hit film? The above messages sent in by our Aint It Cool agents suggest there are…possibilities. Is this the template with which the film makers’ efforts should be started? Yes, as long as the conditions above are satisfied. Will it be GOOD? On paper it’s a good "Blade Runner" story, I think, and can be a good "Blade Runner" movie as well - if not great.
The status of the project is - at this time - still very much unclear, but it looks as if SOMETHING is happening. Even under the best of circumstances, it will be a while before "Blade Runner Down" gets visualized - if it ever does. It’s got a long road to travel before its ready to be threaded-up. While ever fiber of common sense within me says a sequel shouldn’t be done to "Blade Runner", I wait with bated breath to see what Los Angeles 2029 will look like. To see how a softened Deckard deals with a harder world. To see if magic can happen twice.
It’s a good start. The rest is up to time, fate, and economics.
Questions? Comments? Praise? Ridicule?