REVIEW – ‘Blade Runner’

Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece still holds up 35 years after its original release.

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jordan Cronenweth
WRITERS: Hampton Fancher, David Peoples
MUSIC: Vangelis

“Blade Runner” is a film that technically failed at the box-office, but through home video it found new life. It has since gone on to become one of the finest examples of science-fiction in cinema. As most fans of the film also know, the movie has several different versions.

Examples include the original US theatrical edition with the awful narration from Harrison Ford, the 1992 Director’s Cut that Ridley Scott really had nothing to do with, and the 2007 Final Cut that Scott did supervise. I’m not going to get into the long story about all the versions. I just wanted to take a moment before my review to disclose that for the purposes of this review, I watched the Final Cut of “Blade Runner” due to the fact that it is considered by Scott to be the definitive version of the movie.

The first thing I do want to say is that this movie is not for everyone. It’s not because I think it is too intelligent for some people. I actually say it because Scott uses his science-fiction films to analyze certain philosophical and technological themes in ways that other science-fiction films don’t. The core plot of the movie is simply a means to an end in order to explore the themes mentioned above.

Speaking of the core story, it is a pretty simple one. In Los Angeles in 2019, the city has become an overly populated dystopian. Off world, humanity has employed replicants, genetically created humans with brief life spans created to perform slave labor. Replicants are not allowed on Earth and will be killed onsite by special police officers known as Blade Runners.

Four replicants have risked their lives in order to come to Earth. They are led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and soon, they are being hunted by Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a burnt out Blade Runner that is pretty much forced into his latest mission. Rick eventually meets Rachael, a new and more advanced replicant that also turns out to be a love interest.

In fact, it is Rachael that makes Rick question the moral nature of what he is doing. The replicants have learned that they have shortened life spans and the primary reason they are back on Earth is to see if someone can give them more life. The now famous “All those moments…” monologue by Roy Batty makes you question whether he has a right to life or is simply a creation to be used as we desire.

The truth is that you can also watch “Blade Runner” and have a different experience every time you watch it. Not only does it question the nature of what it is to be human, it also has a “Frankenstein” quality with the replicants trying to find their creator. With its stunning visuals, it is also a cautionary tale for allowing technology to run amok.

The movie is subtle and it doesn’t give you straightforward answers to the questions it poses. The audience is meant to interpret the movie on their own. This is most evident with the fact that there is still a debate to this day as to whether or not Deckard himself is a replicant, which the movie definitely suggests at times.

“Blade Runner” was not a massive hit at the time of its release because the audience didn’t understand what the movie was trying to say at the time. Thankfully, home video was invented and the movie has enjoyed a second coming over the decades as a cult hit and has rightfully been declared as one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made. While it may not be for everyone, I definitely agree that assessment.


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