‘Blade Runner’ is one of Ridley Scott’s filmmaking masterpieces, the neo-noir sci-fi thriller which bombed at the initial box office and was subject to negative reviews has since become an iconic film still influencing much of modern sci-fi. The film has been subject to a number of revisions and re-edits that add and take away elements seemingly perfecting the story in the way Ridley Scott originally envisioned. As someone who hadn’t seen Blade Runner I decided to dive right in to Scott’s ‘Final Cut’ (2007), the most recent, most complete, and final release of the film…. which is what I will be reviewing here. Set in 2019 Blade Runner follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an ex Blade Runner who is forced out of retirement when four rogue replicants come to Earth leaving behind a trail of bodies in search of their creator. This is a very mysterious and thought provoking movie with a gripping story, intriguing messages about humanity, awe-inspiring cinematography, and an iconic score that has instantly become one of my favourites.
It seems that for as long as there has been time Ridley Scott’s films have been utterly stunning to look at, and that is no different with Blade Runner. Jordan Cronenweth helmed the cinematography which is undeniably stunning and immensely beautiful and unique. This futuristic version of LA comes to life in every scene where whether it be indoors, outdoors, raining, or sunny, there is always something about every shot that radiates off the screen. Every shot of every scene seems meticulously crafted to tell a story about the characters or the world through visuals alone. Speaking of the world, it’s hard for any film to really properly flesh out a world as complex as this but Scott does such a good job in such a small time with careful shot selection that you feel like you understand almost everything about the rich multicultural world. It is a world that I personally would love to spend more time in so the fact that it has taken this long to get a sequel is surprising to say the least.
Yes the visual elements and the cinematography are great but there is one key element that to me stands out above the rest, and that is the score which from the opening credits to when those elevator doors shut I was completely mesmerised by. Sci-Fi is a genre that is typically synonymous with powerful scores you remember for years and this is no different as this score is riveting, electric, and adds so much to the world, characters, and scenes that without it Blade Runner would be severely lacking something. There is a hint of culture injected into the Sci-Fi score with Arabic-themed music, a great artistic choice used to provide more insight into this vastly different yet familiar world. The story itself is very mysterious and calculating, it’s a story that undulates back and forth between focusing on Deckard’s quest to kill the four replicants and his own personal quest where he questions his perspective on replicant life. Pacing-wise it is fairly consistent, though where it does drop in pacing it is covered up by the fact that you are intrigued by the character centric stories going on. So although it isn’t perfect it doesn’t leave much of a damper on it overall.
As far as the performances go I thought they were very strong across the board and everyone’s characters felt unique enough to where they fit within this futuristic world. Harrison Ford is undoubtedly the star here and he is just incredible to watch in every sequence. The character of Deckard is different from the more charismatic characters Ford was portraying at the time such as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. He is a damaged character and determined yet progressively more conflicted with each passing event. As for the rest of the cast Rutger Hauer is fascinating to watch as Roy, Sean Young is good as Rachael, Edward James Olmos is unsettling as Gaff, and Joe Turkel is great as Dr Tyrell.
So in the end, going into Blade Runner for the first time with decades of hype surrounding it didn’t result in it being underwhelming, I really did adore this movie. And the more I think about it and talk about it during this review the more is appreciate all of the little things it does to craft and perfect this world and the story being told within it. If you are one of the few who have not yet seen this movie definitely check it out, I can’t speak for any version other than the ‘Final Cut’ but what I got from this version is fantastic.
SPOILERS FROM THE FILM TO FOLLOW
So one thing I wanted to touch on is the one question or element of the film that I had heard about prior. That is the question of whether Deckard is a human or a replicant. I knew nothing about whether there was an answer or not but I had seen the question be referenced here and there. After watching the movie what I took from it with the appearance of the origami unicorn at the end is that it was straight up confirming that Deckard is in fact a replicant, no questions asked. I can only assume then that any confusion must have originated from the theatrical cut or earlier revisions leaving that fact open-ended. But in this cut of the film the question is most definitely answered and as much as I love a mystery I also love answers so I will take it and leave.