Classic Film Review: Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner, 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

 

Blade Runner stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a former police officer and ‘Blade Runner’ whose job was to ‘retire’ (kill) androids known as replicants, and is brought back into the police for one final job to track down and kill four androids who have crash-landed on Earth with the target of meeting their maker. After viewing a video tape of a Blade Runner named Holden (Morgan Paull) administering a ‘Voight-Kampff’ test (asking a series of questions with the object being to decipher if the subject is android or human) on Leon (Brion James), Leon shoots him down, and Deckard is informed he’s the first of the four androids to go after.

The world they inhabit is amazingly detailed, which is no surprise considering Ripley Scott is fantastic at creating these incredible worlds (see Gladiator and Alien for proof he can do it in the past, present, future or space), but I found, at times, it was pretty grim-looking. I get that is its appeal, but for a large majority of the film it’s set in a dull city with bleak and dark colours everywhere with very little to be happy about: even the ‘relationship’ between Deckard and Rachael (Sean Young), an android, is almost rape-like in its infancy; I know it’s a product of its time, and Sean Connery’s James Bond was just as bad with his attitude towards women, but Rachael runs away and rejects his advances only to have Deckard force her against a wall and then forces her to kiss him. There’s very little in this film, be it the romance, the characters, the setting, the ending, that makes us, as an audience, happy about, which I felt was a little disappointing.

The character work on Deckard, though, throughout is pretty good. Starting off as a retired (retired in our way of speaking, not theirs) Blade Runner (which, as a name, makes absolutely no sense and we never actually get an explanation of its meaning) with a distaste for androids, his relationship with one and his conversation with Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty) slowly change his mind and make him question his mission along the way, he even looks remorseful when killing one of the androids (for clarity, I watched the Final Cut). While it wasn’t explored too deeply, which is a little disappointing, and it didn’t have any major effect on the outcome, which was also a little disappointing, it was still a nice touch to his character; and not many others had a deep character build.

Harrison Ford is a great actor, and he gives a pretty decent performance here, but none of the performances stood out as being amazing, and that’s probably hindered by everyone’s grumpiness, it’s a weird film and I completely understand why it divided opinion, because there aren’t any characters, really, for you to get invested in, because every character is pretty miserable and the city is so bleak it’s not very inviting. I think the main thing on a futuristic, dystopian or alien world is to entice us into it, by appearance or life, and this film, to me, seemed to lack in both departments. It’s fascinating how such a complex film can be created when its plot is essentially ‘man has to kill four machines’, but there’s so much to the world they inhabit, and the way things work (why are androids so humanlike and difficult to detect?) that it would easily double the length of the reviews I normally do. It’s a fine film, and I wasn’t bored watching it, but I also wasn’t fully invested in it as much as I wanted to be.

 

Plot: * * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¼

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