Review of Blade Runner

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Sci-Fi Movie Month: "Blade Runner" Review

-- Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: June 25, 1982
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Thriller

Films from the 1980s sometimes look a little dated, but "Blade Runner" manages to look just as exciting and futuristic today as it did upon its release in 1982. Focusing on themes of consumerism and the ethics of big business, the film will still make viewers think.

Set in 2020, "Blade Runner" tells the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, "Star Wars"). Deckard is a police officer in a big city who doesn't really seem to care about his job. His newest assignment involves finding the replicants scattered around the city. While replicants look and act just like humans, real humans want to rid the planet of these creatures. Deckard is responsible for eliminating the replicants through any means necessary, but once he gets a little too close to a female replicant, he begins questioning his job and the world in which he lives.

The four replicants Deckard is assigned to hunt down want nothing more than to stay alive, and "Blade Runner" quickly lets viewers know that these humanoids have a life expectancy of just four years. Deckard meets and forms a relationship with a woman named Rachael, but when he learns that she's a replicant, he has to face the truth about his future and his fate.

When author Philip K. Dick originally wrote the short novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" he questioned the very idea of memory. Dick portrayed replicants as having memories similar to humans, and he broached the question of whether memory is the only thing that separates humans from other beings. "Blade Runner" expands on that short story to include other questions that people at the time faced, including the impact big businesses had on the way people lived their lives.

It's hard to watch "Blade Runner" today without marveling at the sets. The big billboards shown onscreen will remind viewers of the billboards they see every day on the way to work while the images of tall buildings will bring to mind big cities such as New York. Even the scenes that show people riding around in flying cars will still wow and amaze those watching because most people still secretly hope that someone will invent one.

As beautiful as the film looked and still looks, the story itself is a simple one. Ford does an adequate job in the lead role, though it's clear that he could use a meatier part. He plays the typical rough-and-tumble big-city cop, and at times, he looks like he would rather be somewhere else. Rutger Hauer ("The Hitcher") does a strong job in his role as a replicant, and Sean Young ("No Way Out") shows why she was once one of the biggest stars in the world. Young and Ford have sizzling chemistry that makes viewers want Deckard to rebel and be with her.

"Blade Runner" wants viewers to ask themselves questions about humanity and what makes a person human. In the 1980s, people still wondered if technology could create robots that looked and acted like humans, and those robots became replicants in the film. The replicants could do anything a human could, but because humans didn't think those humanoids had souls, they wanted to destroy them. When the credits roll, viewers will wonder who really was a replicant and if the replicants deserved the fate handed to them.

Many people go into "Blade Runner," thinking that it's an action film along the lines of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but those who think that way wind up disappointed. "Blade Runner" is a more cerebral action film. While the film does have a number of action scenes, it's much darker and grittier than many assume. This is a film in which humans have the chance to kill replicants and replicants have the chance to kill humans, but those confrontations do not always go the way viewers might expect.

Director Ridley Scott wanted to create a future unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. While viewers expect the flying cars and futuristic colors, they find elements that they wouldn't expect to find in a sci-fi film. Scott doesn't shy away from showing scenes of people bent over trash cans to stay warm by the fire, and he mixes those scenes with shots of people in fancy cars and expensive clothing. The director clearly wanted to make a statement that no matter what happens in the future, poverty still exists.

"Blade Runner" remains one of the top sci-fi films of all time because it takes a simple story and elevates it. From the futuristic sets and great acting to the questions it raises in the minds of viewers, the film will entertain and excite anyone watching it.

Rating: 4 out of 5