Blade Runner Review
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94%
My rating: Better than Sex!
When you get this it is important it is the Final Cut, it is the finest way to see this movie and is closest to Ridley Scott’s vision. I say that because this really is a film set apart from its source. Based on the Phillip K. Dick story ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, Blade Runner barely takes liberties; it takes an idea and simply runs with it, forgetting the original material. This is not a bad thing, however. The novel, which was beautiful in its own right, should be kept separate and in doing so has made the film truly Better than Sex.
The plot centres around Richard Deckard (Harrison Ford), a bounty hunter trained to ‘retire’ androids, or replicants. After a group of replicants, led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), hijack a shuttle headed for earth, Deckard is hired to find the four escapees and kill them. Whilst chasing them down, Deckard will kill, barely survive clashes, and even fall in love with his prey.
Cinematography in this film is excellent, the colour palette matched perfectly to the tone of the overall piece. It is dark but none of that post-matrix blue-washing you see nowadays. It retains colour but emphasises shadow. The first shot sets up the future as a dark and foreboding place. In fact this is essentially the other side of a Space Western, with the motivations revealed as to why humanity is forced into space. The film is bleak and shows little hope for mankind. It is dark. No wonder it took seven versions to finally return to Scott’s vision.
Speaking of versions, it took three books to match up the inaccuracies between the book and the film. But it really is missing little. The only missing part in I would have liked in the film was a chapter in which Deckard meets another bounty hunter he suspects is a replicant. The whole chapter is a heart-string tearing scene where the bounty hunter’s very humanity is placed in question.
But this is not a retelling, it is something entirely separate. Unlike the novel, there is something incredibly human about the film. You feel uncomfortable when Rachael (Sean Young) is referred to as an ‘it’ or an ‘experiment’. Life in this film is significant, each death meaning something rather than falling away like normal action demise.
The replicants are each special, every death showing something new about human nature, human nature in androids. Rachael especially is intense as we see her realise her nature as a replicant and the fact that all her memories are manufactured. However, Rutger Hauer is the show-stealer in this movie. He is horribly dangerous and evil, but at the same time so desperate and emotional. His final interactions with Ford are unbelievable, the intensity of each characters expressions bouncing together in an almost overwhelming display, all of which is guided by the underlying score pulling softly at each emotion possible.
The soundtrack in the movie is a wonderful example of film and beauty. The music is entirely synthesised but not in the usual 80’s synth-beat horror-show that ruins a lot of movies of that time. The music guides your eye along the image. This is IMAX before IMAX. In the theatre your eyes can glide across the screen, taking in every inch of the giant pyramid buildings, guided slowly and inevitably back to Deckard, giving you time to feel comfortable.
Also making us feel strangely comfortable is an outstanding case of agelessness. It has been over two decades since this movie was made and still nearly all of the film is completely up to date. Especially with the improvements of the Final Cut, this has made the film able to be shown to any audience. This is a film that you can pull out for your children and be proud of, much like the original Star Wars trilogy. Maybe it is because everything is performed with real models, or maybe it is the unbelievable care put in by the designers and workmen of the film, but only the keenest eyes could pick fault with the visuals of this film.
Pace is key to this film. Nothing is rushed over and plot holes aren’t left. Every motion of Deckard’s has firm reasoning behind it. The film takes its time and, like wine, grows because of it. Each replicant shows a new method of tracking with 3D photographs and undercover work. Because of this pace, the movie has probably the finest final act you could hope for in a blockbuster. The slow build-up as Deckard picks off each replicant, one at a time, hits a sort of fever pitch in the last half hour as Deckard hunts two replicants simultaneously with broken shooting fingers in a dilapidated house. It is like a session of The Most Dangerous Game set in a city skyscraper. This scene shows Hauer at his finest, howling in agony at the loss of his group and slow shift towards inevitable death. The speed of the chase is perfectly executed, with Hauer calling out in an attempt to destabilise Deckard, an attempt which works.
This last act is how the film shines. To pick between a great first act and a great end, the choice would be final, but here you don’t have to. I find a truly wonderful movie always has that moment of twinkle. That moment when the hair on the back of your head stands on end from just the right combination of words, music, and image. This film has that. Wait for the moment Batty gives his ‘I’ve seen things’ speech. This nearly always leaves me nearing tears and always leaves me silent. I could hear it a thousand times and am getting there.
This movie is perfection in sci-fi form, deriving from the age old question ‘how are we human?’ This film is one on the greatest out there.
Better than Sex!