Reviewing The Classics: Blade Runner

Blade Runner isn't a classic film in the general sense, but it is a cult classic. It stars Harrison Ford in one of his roles that isn't Indiana Jones or Han Solo. It was released in 1982 to mixed reviews. Some stating that it was an amazingly beautiful film with no substantial story and other stating it defined the science fiction and tech noir genres. I sat down and watched it to determine if it truly deserves the classic label.

The story follows Rick Deckard a former police officer who is arrested by Gaff in order to force Deckard back to work. Deckard is tasked with hunting down and retiring a group of rogue replicants after one named Leon had a mental breakdown. Replicants are robots identical to humans but without emotion or memories, they live for 4 years and have enhanced strength and speed. They are essentially used as slaves. Deckard is supposed to retire them, or murder them.

He begins by Tyrell Corporation where he meets Rachael a replicant who has been implanted with false memories and doesn't realize she's a replicant. Rachael later shows up to Deckard's apartment with photos to prove she's human and he reveals the truth to her before she runs away. He does some detective work and stumbles upon the first replicant he is to retire. A woman named Zhora who is working as a performer at a strip club. She runs and he kills her. On his way home he's attacked by Leon but is saved by Rachael. They return to Deckard's apartment and have sex.

Meanwhile Roy the leader and Priss his lover manipulate a scientist named JF Sebastian to help them get close to Tyrell. The replicants are close to the end of their four year life cycle and according to Roy they want "more life motherfucker." Roy kills Tyrell and Sebastian before returning to Priss. When he returns it's just in time to see Decakrd kill her after he had tracked them down. He beats Deckard senseless and gives him his thesis on life before dying. Deckard meets with Gaff who says Rachael will die. Deckard rushes home to her and they elope.

So how was the film? The story wasn't exactly the greatest. There were things in there for no reason. Characters who only made one appearance and most of the film had no dialogue at all. Instead it focused on still shots of characters contemplating the future or shots of scenery. It lacked story and the most meaningful dialogue came from Roy at the end of the film when he explains what he wants and his views on life. At the end he tells Deckard:
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.
That's all this is, a group of slaves wanting to be free. That's the longest piece of uninterrupted dialogue and the most meaningful. I understand why, Harrison Ford was the lead but Rutger Hauer was the only actor that put anything behind his performance. Ford had absolutely no emotion with the exception of two scenes. When Roy saves him and when he runs off with Rachael. Roy was the only character that seemed to truly be motivated by anything in this.

The scenery was universally praised as it should be. The beautiful neon lights in contrast with the almost constant rainfall and fog is amazing. The city is full of people and vehicles, signs in multiple languages. Some signs boldly stand out like Atari signs or companies long gone out to pasture. The city truly feels alive with people in the background actively having conversations and going about life not just being space fillers. The way the scenes change is amazing as is the way scenes are framed. There's also a ton of beautiful shots. The score for the film isn't horrible. The music just doesn't match up to the visuals but then again nothing else in the film does.

The film came out in 82 and it had some progressive things for the time. There was a joke about Rachael being a lesbian. Additionally Roy and Tyrell shared a long passionate man on man kiss. Then there was the "love" scene between Deckard and Rachael.

He kisses her and she pulls back. She gets up grabs her coat and goes for the door. Thriller music starts playing and Deckard punches the door closed so she can't leave. He then throws her into the wall and slams his fist on the wall blocking her in and demanding she say she wants him. She does and the music suddenly switches to a romantic tune and they kiss before fading to the next scene. I didn't have an actual verbal reaction because I was in shock and couldn't say the words "what the fuck was that?" Even in the 80s what Deckard did would be considered rape. He forced her to stay, threw her into a wall and yelled at her until she panicked and yelled she wanted to have sex with him and they played romantic music as if this was great romantic practices. Meanwhile I'm sitting there with my eyes wide and mouth agape at what I just saw. It seems like anytime I watch a movie from the 70s or 80s I'm left wondering if consensual sex was a thing before the 90s.

Is Blade Runner a horrible movie? Not at all and with the exception of that "love" scene it's very enjoyable. I wish Harrison Ford showed a little more emotion. It's understandable when actors playing replicants with no emotions don't show any range but what's Ford's excuse? Roy showed more humanity than anyone else in the film. I'll probably watch the film again at some point in the future for the scenery and cinematography.

You can hear Darrell on the CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. He also plays classic arcade games on The Cabinet. You can also check out his playthrough of Sleeping Dogs or Skyrim
Reviewing The Classics: Blade Runner Reviewing The Classics: Blade Runner Reviewed by Darrell S. on Thursday, July 13, 2017 Rating: 5

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