Blade Runner Review

Blade Runner

Much like when I start to look at the Star Wars films and I pondered “how do I review the original Star Wars?”, I have to repeat that process by saying “How do I review Blade Runner?” I wanted to review the sequel, 2049, so I thought I’d do them together, but what is there left to say about the original? It has to be among the most looked at films, the most often broken down into its component parts, the most examined both from a visual and a storytelling viewpoint. I guess the only thing to do is just do it! Say what I like, and if you want something super in-depth I’m sure a quick google search will grant you a look at the film from every possible perspective. So, without further ado: Blade Runner! (the “Final Cut” version, for the record…)

Synopsis:

In 2019 Los Angeles, former police officer Rick Deckard is detained by officer Gaff and brought to his former supervisor. Deckard, whose job as a “blade runner” was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and “retire” them, is informed that four are on Earth illegally and one of them has already killed a top blade runner. Given no other option, Deckard leaves the office with the task of tracking down and killing the replicants known as Roy, Zhora, Pris and Leon…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Blade Runner 1

Still as amazing today as then… (The lovely blu-ray screens come from movie-screencaps.com, handy free site for blu-ray screencapping facility-less people like myself!)

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) – Deckard thought he had left the world of the blade runner behind, but when a top agent gets killed he’s the only man for the job. Hunting down these four rouge replicants may prove too much for even him, however…

Rachel (Sean Young) – Rachel is a young girl working for Tyrell Industries, directly under Tyrell himself. She is a replicant, but completely unaware of the fact… at least right now, anyway…

Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) – Roy is a Nexus-6 replicant who is leading a group of his kind to Earth and their creator in order to get an extension of their given four years of life. Powerful, skilled and intelligent, Roy is more than a match for any human…

Pris Stratton (Daryl Hannah) – Pris is a “basic pleasure model” of replicant that is also in love with Roy. The two are searching for more life in order to truly live.

Leon Kowalski (Brion James) – Leon is another member of Roy’s group, and one that was caught early in their trip to Earth. He killed blade runner Holden and escaped his interrogation. He has a high strength level, but lacks the high thought to go with it…

Zhora Salome (Joanna Cassidy) – Zhora is the final member of Roy’s group of replicants that survive long enough to be hunted by Deckard. She has an affinity for snakes, real or not.

Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) – Tyrell is the CEO and founder of Tyrell Corporation and the creator of the replicants. His creations have made colonising far off regions easier, and life on Earth harder, though not for himself and the rest of the wealthy, obviously!

Gaff (Edward James Olmos) – A member of the LAPD who joins Deckard at a few points in his mission. Has an obsession with creating origami…

Plus more!

The Good:

Blade Runner 2

A sight many replicants saw in their final moments…

It’s tempting to just write “Everything” and then move on, but I’ll try to describe why it’s so good, hopefully without sounding like some blind follower of what films are “trendy” to like (because trust me, most “trendy” films aren’t in genres I like and therefore I would not pretend of like them for the sake of trying to sound like I know what I’m going on about…) From the very first shot of the futuristic LA landscape, to the shots of flying cars, big electronic billboards and gritty and grimy streets, this is the vision of a neo-noir dystopian future that the majority of the things you’ve seen use the setting used as a base. Inspirational doesn’t begin to describe it, and it still looks GREAT.

Harrison Ford as your down-on-his-luck detective type character is unsurprisingly brilliant and at the same time brilliantly flawed. I mean, he isn’t jokey or fun, and he gets his arse handed to him on a regular basis, no sly Han Solo or Indiana Jones here. As a man who spent a good deal of his life hunting and killing rouge replicants, it’s a good bit of development that he falls for replicant Rachel, and not just because her demeanour and his is the classic “gumshoe and hot dame” combination that regular noir attracts, but because one of the many layers of the film is about what it means to be human and how replicants blur that line and are possibly more human than the humans.

Speaking of the replicants, I have to now talk about how amazing Rutger Hauer is as Roy Batty. He has this not-quite-human look and way of speaking about him, but at the same time he’s so engaging and charismatic. His speech when he’s talking to what is essentially to him his God, is great, made even better when crushes Tyrell’s skull in rather gruesome fashion. It adds such a layer of fear to him, but at the same time he’s venting frustration at being purposely created to serve humans and then die within four years. It’s hard to blame him… or is it? Is he just that convincing of a charismatic genius.

Then we get to when the two sides meet, Deckard being chased in the apartment building by Roy, who has seemingly gone insane. In reality he’s showing Deckard what it’s like to be on the run and in constant fear for your life. He actually saves the blade runner’s life and then reflects on his own being and memories in the now iconic “like tears in the rain” scene, before dying when his natural life cycle ends. Much like a lot of the key scenes in the film, there is no background music, just sound effects and talking (when necessary, it’s not dialogue-filled for the hell of it). It really shows how such a “realistic” way of shooting scenes like that give it much more impact than a dramatic scene full of music and quips.

Such a quick sum up on my favourite scenes and characters, but there is so much more. So much great world-building without the need to explain everything to the viewer, scenes where Deckard faces off with the other three replicants are great as well (and similarly shot with great direction and no music), and the times when they use music from the soundtrack is brilliant. Hell there are establishing shots and camera pans that are amazing…

Such a thought-provoking and brilliant shot, acted and directed film as this needs no more written about it… well, from me anyway. As I said in the opening paragraph, there is plenty out there talking about how the film deals with themes of noir, Greek tragedy and science fiction, how it deals with stuff like religion and society as a whole (which is still as relevant now, even though we’re nearly at the year the film is set in!), technology leading to ruin and other such subjects. Blade Runner is as deep as you want it to be, but still just as great if all you want in under two hours of great looking sci-fi or neo-noir.

The Bad:

Blade Runner 3

Technically the bad, but really more good than the protagonist!

… Nope. Nothing comes to mind, honestly. As a huge Star Wars fan I still found things to put in this section for even the most iconic of the films, but I just can’t think of anything here. It tells a self-contained story and does it so well that I just can’t put a negative down here.

Overall Thoughts:

Blade Runner 4

Like tears in the rain…

In case you haven’t caught on: I love this film. It’s a cult classic and generally considered a masterpiece, and I can say that it deserves all the praise it gets. I might get more attention if I blasted the film for something or other, but I just can’t… because it’s great! If you haven’t watched it yet, do, and if you’ve already watched it, what’s one more time going to hurt?

5 Star Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s