Blade Runner (1982) Review

Bladerunner is one of those movies I should like, but don’t. I am a science fiction fan and usually enjoy movies with Harrison Ford in them, but Bladerunner just doesn’t strike a chord with me. Watching Bladerunner is like going on a date with a beautiful woman and finding out she’s as boring as toast; nice to look at but you’d rather find do other things than go out with her again.

Good movies are centered around characters.  Bladerunner is a movie that centers around setting. Ridley Scott created the tech-noir look associated with a cyberpunk future; wet, multi-cultural, rampant poverty, with a dark gritty atmosphere.  Cyberpunk usually reflects societies of people grimly hanging on to the skeleton of a decaying industrial world. Hi-technology is interfaced with dark criminal behavior of people doing grim things to survive in a bleak world.

The future is a dark place, and Director Scott did an amazing job creating the look of this dystopic future.  Watching this movie in 2011, it still has elements that ring true. Humanity in Bladerunner is dull and indistinguishable from robots and machinery. Humanity seems to have lost it’s charm, and people shuffle about like the living dead.

I love the flying cars and how the neon signs contrast the dark world like memories of a once bright past.  There is no optimism or hope in this world, and people just seem to take life as it comes, just like today except we have people connected more with their iPads and the internet than interacting with humanity.

Bladerunner caught the feeling of disconnectedness people feel in a cyberpunk world and one that is missing in contemporary society. People tend to be like the toymaker in the movie, staying at home being entertained by television and the internet.

While I love the setting and appreciate the vision that Ridley Scott created, as a movie it stinks. Remember, good movies are centered on characters. The best character in the movie is the replicant named Roy played by Rutger Hauer. Roy is a machine who discovers his humanity in the last moments of the film. He gives one of the best short speeches in sci-fi-dom at the end.  If he was the main character, it would have been a great movie. However, Rick Deckard is the main character played by Harrison Ford.  Deckard is bland and lifeless like the setting he inhabits. The characters he associates with are as lifeless as the replicants themselves.  He’s forced out of retirement to hunt and kill the rogue androids.  His conflict is not set up well.  Watching the movie, I wanted the replicants to get some salvation from their life of slavery. Even though they are manufactured, they still have consciousness and deserve some kind of quality of life.

Even though they can be monstrous, they are sympathetic. I was reminded of Frankenstein’s monster watching Roy search to expand his life. He’s sociopathic, but he’s a machine.  When he begins to develop feelings and compassion toward the end of the film, he becomes less monstrous.

We do get a sense that Deckard has an element of humanity at the end of the movie, but not much. He wants to run off with Rachel, his replicant girlfriend, and escape the world he lives in. Yet, Director Scott wanted the viewers to be unclear about whether Deckard was a replicant himself. I’ve read on that Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer  felt that Deckard should obviously be a human. I agree. Deckard’s apathetic way of living and seeming lack of humanity could have made a great growth opportunity for his character. Remember, good movies have good characters.

Bladerunner is on numerous lists as one of the top ten greatest science fiction films of all time. I’m not so sure it should be. Visually it holds up, but the characters are still wooden and boring except for Hauer’s android.

One last comment, the film did leave me wondering why it was always raining in Los Angeles and why people should look for a new life off world. What happened to make the year 2019 such a crappy year. Seeing how things are going in the world today, I can see how that world comes into being. Industrial society simply exhausts itself and breathes a polluted final gasp which would leave people feeling bleak and hopeless.

Overall, I’d give the film 2.5 out of 5 electric sheep.

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3 Responses to Blade Runner (1982) Review

  1. V says:

    What? In the directors cut- Scott says he wanted it to be obvious that he’s a Replicant. Perhaps you’ve not seen the director’s cut- with all that noir monologue. I say! It’s brilliant, it is! Brilliant!

    • dashbannon says:

      It would be a better commentary on the plight of the human condition if Decker was a human, not a replicant. It would be greater artistically. Think about it, humans have become so mechanical and machine-like in their actions and behavior that we can’t tell if they’re replicants or not. That would be a better kicker than what we were left with in Blade Runner.

  2. V says:

    I have thought about it: I like the movie! 🙂 It *isn’t* better with Decker as a human. It’s about something *else*, something about what it means to be human. That Decker doesn’t know that he isn’t a Replicant gives the film a sweet poignancy, and makes the otherwise comic (in classic sense) ending of the film all the more tragic. But that- ultimately- is what the filmmaker was trying to say about the human condition and it can only be done with a non human.

    In short: you’re watching it wrong.

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