Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve has quickly become one of the premier directors working today thanks to acclaimed works such as Prisoners, Sicario, and this year’s Arrival. His excellent handling of the sci-fi drama was noteworthy because Villeneuve’s next movie is in that same genre. He’s the one tasked with bringing Blade Runner 2049 (sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner) to the big screen. The followup sees Harrison Ford reprise his role as Rick Deckard, and he’s joined by new lead Ryan Gosling as LAPD officer K.
Blade Runner 2049 won’t reach theaters until October 2017, but Warner Bros. has already kicked off the marketing campaign. The last week has seen the release of the first teaser trailer and new images highlighting the cast and suitably visually-stunning environment of a futuristic Los Angeles. Villeneuve understands the pressure to get the sequel “right,” as he previously called the project the greatest artistic challenge he’s tackled in his career. Part of that sentiment may stem from the reverence he has for the original, frequently cited as one of the most influential films of its era.
While speaking with Empire, Villeneuve discussed his experience helming Blade Runner 2049 and the relationship many members of the creative team have with the first installment:
“I’m having the time of my life on this, but it’s insane for sure. Because it is so insane, it gives you freedom. A lot of people on this [film] are children of Blade Runner, raised with the imagination and energy of the original, and have been inspired by those images all our lives.”
It’s become common in recent years for fans of certain film properties to direct new entries in a series (see: Disney’s Star Wars movies). This obviously is not a prerequisite to make a quality production, but it certainly does help. Those who have an emotional connection with the universe they’re playing in are more likely to understand what works and what doesn’t so they can tell the best story possible. Even with Villeneuve’s involvement, some are still skeptical about revisiting Blade Runner so many years later, so knowing that this was the director’s approach to the film should calm those nerves. Using the “imagination and energy” of the first movie as a springboard sounds like the recipe to crafting a compelling narrative that enthralls viewers.
With the promise of Blade Runner 2049 being three films in one, the sequel sounds like it’s Villeneuve’s most ambitious work to date, which is extremely fitting. It should be fascinating to see what he comes up with, since his films have arguably gotten better as his career progresses. Villeneuve has demonstrated he has immense talent with a string of acclaimed dramas, so it’s safe to say the world of Blade Runner is in good hands for this go-around. Especially after Arrival, he’d probably be many fans’ first pick to direct a Blade Runner 2, so hopefully the end result can live up to its potential and mark another step forward for Villeneuve as an auteur – before he takes on the Dune reboot.