Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 57 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Violence and brief Nudity
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Hampton Fancher & David Peoples
(based on the novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Philip K. Dick)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Brian James, Daryl Hannah & M. Emmet Walsh
Besides bringing arguably the most terrifying alien movie to the screen, director Ridley Scott also made a significant mark in the science fiction genre with BLADE RUNNER! This film polarized critics upon its release and underperformed at the box office, but has since gone on to become a cult hit with a large fanbase and modern critics praising it to the heavens. Believe the hype. BLADE RUNNER is not only one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, it’s also one of the best films of all time. Combining noir and science fiction into one wholly original and unforgettable combination, BLADE RUNNER is absolutely phenomenal.
In the distant future of 2019, earth has become an industrial dystopia with off-world colonies. These colonies employ replicants, bioengineered beings who function as superhuman slaves. When four dangerous replicants make their way back to Los Angeles and begin a bloody quest to find their maker, retired cop Rick Deckard is pushed back into duty. You see, Deckard specialized in being a Blade Runner (someone who tracks down and kills replicants), so he’s the perfect man for the job. However, these four replicants are more human and dangerous than he expected. Decker also begins to discover that not everything is black and white.
BLADE RUNNER is a special movie in that on paper it sounds like an extremely simple story: a guy with a gun chases down four robots. That’s merely skimming the surface of how deep this movie goes though. The world that Ridley Scott introduces us to is simply amazing to behold. It has since been mimicked in plenty of other films, TV shows, and video games, but this is definitely where the neon-lit mechanical future first came into play. The movie doesn’t waste any screen time in filling us in on exposition about this future, but rather introduces pieces of technology and new information in a natural flow that never distracts from the story at hand. Though I watched “The Final Cut” of this movie (Ridley Scott’s full vision of the story), I have to imagine that not too much was digitally altered (after all, Scott is not George Lucas) as this movie utilized a lot of wild effects and screen tricks that still hold up perfectly to this day.
Besides the amazing on-screen world, this movie has lots of suspense and borders on becoming an outright horror film during a number of sequences. Though it was mis-marketed as an action thrill-ride and has the basic set-up of a sci-fi flick, BLADE RUNNER cannot be fully classified under either of those genres. When you consider its use of noir elements and the probing questions it asks, the film becomes the cinematic masterpiece that has held up over the test of time. The villains in BLADE RUNNER aren’t simply killer robots piling bodies up every which way they go, but instead, come complete with emotions and interesting (as well as understandable) motivations behind their violent actions. They become outright tragic figures of sorts by the end and that makes them more than just one-dimensional baddies. Thus, these four replicants (the two biggest stand-outs being a frightening Rutger Hauer and victim-turned-villainess Daryl Hannah) become some of the most interesting and compelling antagonists in science-fiction film history.
By praising these replicants, I’m not trying to take anything away from troubled protagonist Rick Decker. This man is ostensibly a noir protagonist placed in a futuristic, neon landscape. Harrison Ford plays Decker unlike any of the other roles that I’ve seen him play. Instead of being a wise-cracking rogue (ala Han Solo) or a charismatic action-hero (ala Indiana Jones), Decker comes off like a depressed cop who doesn’t necessarily like what he’s doing…but remains good at it nonetheless. Alongside Ford’s Decker is the smoking dame Rachael (Sean Young) who initially seems like a throwaway side character, but becomes a far more important player as the movie goes along. The connection between Decker and Rachael also makes for a perfect, poetic conclusion that left me wanting more (I mean that in the best possible way).
BLADE RUNNER is a masterpiece of science-fiction, noir, and film in general. The special effects hold up decades later in bringing to life one of the most beautiful and well-designed futuristic landscapes to ever hit the big screen. The world this movie throws the viewer into is so fleshed-out and interesting that I would love to spend more time in it. The complex characters and smart writing make an otherwise simple-sounding story into something profound and emotionally moving. BLADE RUNNER is as perfect as cinema can be. This is one of my all-time favorite films!