Blade Runner (1982) (R)
Upon its initial release, "Blade Runner" was not a commercial success; but years have treated the movie kindly. It now holds a place as a sci-fi masterpiece and one of Ridley Scott's better pieces, holding to itself an entire cult following who will defend it to the death.
Yet there's a large problem with "Blade Runner" with the question: which version do I watch? Ridley Scott, in one of his more notorious moves, cut and recut the picture so many times that by the 21st century, there are four or five movies floating out there, all similar but different. The first version I saw was the director's cut, which probably wasn't the right idea. While much more moody than the original theatrical release, it doesn't wrap its story up and has a few loose ends lying out—purposefully. The director's cut was a very challenging work, though it didn't deserve to be.
Yet I recently say the original U.S. release and I noted how they differed, mostly in the voice-over-narration, so I will be reviewing the original release and not the director's cut.
The movie begins with an acknowledgment of artificial intelligence. These robots-type creations called replicants have grown so sophisticated that they have started to stage coups against the humans and thus, have to be exterminated, or retired. Now enter the Blade Runners, a group of officials whose sole job it is to track down the replicants and retire them.
Things aren't as easy as all that though and many tests have to be done, laborious questioning before one is certain if a person is a human or a replicant.
"Blade Runner's" first scene is one of these interrogations sequences.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner (seek your own irony in the way that's phrased) and is not looking to get back into the line of fire; but upon being threatened, he is forced to take back the reigns of robot-killer.
Four replicants have escaped and are on the run on Earth, trying to dodge the Blade Runners' notice and blend in with the crowd; but that's not so easy, particularly when you're dying. These replicants only have four years to live and they aren't too happy about that fact.
As he's out looking for replicants, Rick comes across a woman named Rachael (Sean Young) who is in the care of the replicant-making corporation head Tyrell (Joe Turkell). It turns out that Rachael is a replicant as well, but she is unaware of it. Rick doesn't feel the need to immediately retire her and she is in the hands of her maker, quite literally.
Instead his focus has to be shifted towards Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the leader of this band of renegade replicants, who seems out for as much chaos as possible on his way to furthering his own life expectancy.
It's not necessarily a battle against two forces because that would imply that "Blade Runner" had a structured narrative instead of some sort of mush that blends into an indescribable experience. Much like "Solaris" (perhaps the most revered of the sci-fi classics behind Kubrick's picture) "Blade Runner" has its own feel, its own language if you will. It's entirely existent within itself and so if you enjoy that immersiveness, you'll probably love "Blade Runner".
The problem lies with its emotional side, the side that makes you want to gape in wonder at this 2019 Earth. The odd score from Vangelis is both beautiful and distracting, not letting us fully understand what we're supposed to be feeling. We have to empathize and hate pretty much every character in the movie and by the end of it, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? I certainly don't know.
"Blade Runner" is revolutionary and a great movie to look at, for me personally the noir tendencies the movie tries to grab are so out of place that they almost ruin the whole thing. Then again, it's not just this version because the director's cut also had issues.
It's a classic, but that doesn't necessarily make it good.
Posted by Micah Jones