Near-total Recall

19/08/2011 //

The Internet is all atwitter (pun intended) that Ridley Scott may be making a sequel or prequel or reimagining of his seminal masterpiece Blade Runner. Now, Scott is a grown man perfectly capable of making his own choices, which he has, to great financial and artistic success, but I feel somewhat ambivalent about this. His current project, Prometheus, was supposedly an Alien prequel before being rewritten as a standalone flick. (The studio no doubt casting a hopeful eye on the potential franchise.) So is he trying to recapture former glories after a streak of lackluster Russell Crowe vehicles?

Of course, this could all be bullshit. Scott is infamous for committing to scores of projects that never happen. (See: The Forever War) Furthermore, he has famously spent 30 years on redoing the original movie, refining and perfecting it over numerous incarnations. Is he still not done?! The mind positively boggles. A sequel or prequel makes more sense, (Total Recall was once intended as a potential Blade Runner sequel before that aspect was jettisoned and the whole thing massively rewritten) but I’m still not sold.

One reason I think it’s a potentially bad – nay, terrible – idea is that Ridley Scott is a wildly uneven director. Don’t get me wrong. The man has Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven on his resume. Few of even the most successful directors out there can claim to have worked on even a single movie of that caliber.

No, my main worry is that the new Blade Runner will be directed by the other Ridley Scott. The one who made White Squall, Black Rain, 1492: Conquest of Paradise and the most leaden Robin Hood ever to grace a screen. Scott is a masterful visual director, and I have no real problem with filming cool shit for its own sake (see: all of Luc Besson’s best work), provided there is some heart there. I just also happen to believe that very often, whatever heart you find in his movies comes from the script and not Scott himself.

On Blade Runner, Scott saw the big aspect while Harrison Ford saw the more intimate one. However bored he seems to be with the movie business these days, Ford’s soulful performance in Blade Runner is a career best (tied with Witness). Ford fought for Deckard’s humanity where Scott saw him as a replicant, and had he not, Scott would subsequently would have had a lesser movie.

And therein lies another rub: It’s hard to imagine the Scott of today making anything but a SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS A RIDLEY SCOTT MOVIE. Would – hell, could – a young actor today fight for the character’s point of view if it differed from Scott’s?