'80s Movie Month: "Blade Runner" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

'80s Movie Month: "Blade Runner" Review

Rating: R (for violence)
Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: June 25, 1982
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, and Thriller

Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" is an impressively transcendental and sumptuously visionary film that's considered by most critics as a true masterpiece. The film premiered decades ago, back in 1982, but it's labeled as one of the best sci-fi movies in motion picture history. It has been nominated seventeen times and has won ten awards over the years. A director's cut was also released ten years later.

Scott's first American movie was the eye-popping thriller "Alien." Scott, a very creative and provocative director, introduced terms like retrofitting and cyberpunk into the movie industry and the American vocabulary in general. He skillfully portrayed a vividly decadent future Los Angeles that is teeming with skyscrapers 400 stories tall, high-tech patrol cars, and flying billboards that incessantly announce the spacious glory of building off-word colonies. Millions of people have gone to live outside Earth, leaving behind a crowd of billions squeezed through cramped spaces amidst noisy cities.

David Webb Peoples and Hampton Fancher took inspiration from Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and wrote a screenplay that expanded the story further. While the book is set in 1992, "Blade Runner" is set in a more advanced and futuristic setting.

"Blade Runner" focuses on Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a retired detective who's expert in tracking down and terminating replicants that attempt to live as humans. These replicants are much stronger and more skilled than real people, and they're originally used as soldiers and slave laborers.

Known as the best blade runner alive, Deckard gets assigned by his former boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to take down four replicants who have taken over a space shuttle and returned to Earth. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) acts as the leader of the replicants, and they seek to meet their maker Tyrell (Joe Turkel). They have developed a fail-safe lifespan of four years to accomplish their mission.

Along the way, Deckard has to shake off the perturbing situations he has witnessed and break the numbness that has entrapped him for so long. He learns to get in touch with his feelings and become human again as the replicants evoke feelings of empathy from him. Most humans have grown to be less emotional and less sympathetic than the replicants. Working as a blade runner, Deckard also developed the same cold character. Ford's emotionally restrained acting suited the role perfectly.

"Blade Runner" is an impressive and compelling movie that adeptly raises questions about people's increasing dependency on technology and how the benefits brought forth by technology in all aspects of life compares with its disadvantages. Scott proved to be a visionary director who successfully captured the nature of a futuristic society that's spiraling downward. The persistently bleak and dark backdrop intensifies the plot. It explores the plausible struggle between man versus machine in a dystopian setting where technology has ultimately become inextricable from people's lives. It's both a sci-fi and neo-noir classic with a sophisticatedly slow pace, an engaging climax, and themes that run deeply, crafting a mesmerizing tale that challenges the mind of viewers. While the film is deeply philosophical, it's also packed with action and adventure.

While Ford stood out in the film, Hauer also contributed a creative performance as the wry, intellectual, and psychotic replicant. Ford's witty acting, along with the outstanding performances of the supporting cast, goes well with Scott's direction.

"Blade Runner" has a sophisticated plot that requires meticulous analysis. It's worth watching many times, especially as there are countless small details that often get missed when initially viewed.

"Blade Runner" carries various mythological as well as Biblical references that make it more engrossing with repeated viewing. In its essence, the movie comes off as a detective story interspersed with powerful themes of drama, realization, and character development.

The movie is also a visual spectacle, showcasing artistic production design and striking visuals. At the time of the film's release, its special effects were considered outstanding. "Blade Runner" has built a solid reputation over the decades. Many people cite it as one of their favorite classic sci-fi movies of all time. The sensational sci-fi thriller is certainly a movie that deserves critical acclaim and respect for many generations to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5