movie, movie review, sci-fi, thriller

Flashback Review: May 12th, 2014 Movie – Blade Runner

blade runner

Sometimes, a classic movie will come along with most people not even realizing it and that was definitely the case with this movie. I remember seeing this on TV years ago when I was a kid and honestly not understanding one bit of what was going on, but liking the scenery and imagery in the movie. Years later, when I had another chance to watch it, I was actually impressed with the storytelling involved in the movie, though it would be a few years later that I read the Philip K. Dick novel the movie was based on. Any time this movie was on, I would try to watch it so it was only natural for me to give in and buy a copy of Blade Runner so that I could watch it whenever I want. Now I just have to stop myself from trying to buy a 4K Blu-Ray copy of it.

The plot: Early in the 21st century, the Tyrell Corporation created the next stage in advanced robotics called Replicants, robotic beings that were practically identical to humans. Intended for use off-world for planetary exploration and colonization, the Nexus 6 model was designed to have superior strength and agility, and equal intelligence to humans. When a rogue group of Replicants rebelled and attempted to overthrow a colony, Replicants were deemed illegal on Earth and a special police force, deemed Blade Runners, was created to kill them on detection. In Los Angeles, in November of 2019, a Blade Runner named Holden is administering the Voigt-Kampff test, a test designed to distinguish replicants from humans based on their emotional responses, to a man named Leon but as it commences, Leon kills him during the second question, as he is a replicant. Some time later, a retired Blade Runner named Rick Deckard is sitting down to eat at a street-side restaurant when two police officers appear and tell him he is under arrest, under orders from his former superior Bryant. Reluctantly going with the officers, Deckard is taken to police headquarters and Bryant tells him that he has 4 replicants that have somehow made it into the city. Deckard tells him he is retired and says to get Holden to do it but Bryant says he is dead and when Deckard goes to leave anyways, Bryant subtly threatens him to force him to say. As they watch the video of Holden’s death, Bryant explains that 6 replicants had initially escaped but 2 were killed during the attempt. Bryant then tells Deckard to kill Leon and the other three Replicants; Roy Batty, Zhora, and Pris. As these are newer models, Bryant wants Deckard to go to the Tydell Corporation and initiate the test on a Nexus 6 model. When he gets there, CEO Eldon Tydell wants to see the test fail and asks that he give it to his assistance Rachael. Deckard agrees and after a lengthy test, Tydell asks Rachael to leave the room. Deckard says she is a replicant and admits that it took longer than normal to make the determination. Tydell explains that Rachael was an experiment; giving her memories to form as a cushion to provoke some emotional responses. Leaving there, Deckard and Raff, the police officer assigned to drive him around, head to the hotel where Leon was staying at, unaware that Leon sees them from the street. Leon meets up with Batty, and the two go to see a man to find a way to beat the test. Meanwhile, Deckard returns to his home to find Rachael waiting for him outside his apartment. Inviting her in, the two talk for a while, with Rachael saying she isn’t a replicant and Deckard arguing she is but then feeling pity on her and telling her he was joking and she wan’t one. They continue talking, with Rachael trying to prove she is human by showing him a family photo but when Deckard says that it is Tydell’s niece’s memories, she gets upset and leaves. Meanwhile, Pris is wandering the street and decides to rest in an alley when she is startled by a cab driver named J.F. Sebastian. The two talk briefly and when he learns that she has no where to go, Sebastian offers to let her into his place. As they head inside, Sebastian tells her he lives alone except for his friends, toys that he creates. Later that night, Deckard is going over the photos he took of Leon’s hotel room and as he examines them, he finds a strange scale and has his computer print a physical copy of it. Deckard then tracks down the man who created the snake and is pointed in the direction of a club in Chinatown. After talking with the club owner but getting nowhere, Deckard calls Rachael and invites her there to have a drink with him but she refuses. As he sits at the bar drinking, Deckard hears an announcement for one of the acts and decides to question the performer after her show but she turns out to be Zhora and attempts to kill Deckard before making a run for it. Deckard chases after her and eventually kills her. As the police show up to retrieve the body, Deckard doesn’t notice Leon watching him in the crowd. Deckard goes to buy a drink but Raff shows up and escorts him to Bryant, who has added Rachael to the list of Replicants for him to kill. After Bryant leaves, Deckard spots Rachael in the crowd and starts to head towards her but Leon shows up and grabs him. As Leon begins beating Deckard, Deckard tries to shoot him but Leon knocks it from his hands and continues beating him. When Leon goes to kill Deckard, he is suddenly shot in the head by Rachael, who had grabbed Deckard’s gun. Deckard takes her back to his place and they share a drink while he discusses his “business”. When Rachael asks if he would come after her if she left town, Deckard tells her no and says that he owes her one for saving him. Exhausted from everything, Deckard lays down and starts to fall asleep but when Rachael begins playing a piano piece he wrote, he wakes up and talks to her some more and she goes to leave but he stops her and forces her to kiss him. Back at Sebastian’s apartment, Pris has changed her appearance and asks Sebastian what he thinks and he tells her that she is pretty. When she asks what is wrong with him, he tells her that he has Methuselah Syndrome, he is aging prematurely and unable to leave the planet. When Roy shows up and tells Pris that Leon and Zhora are dead. As Sebastian talks with them, he says that he sympathizes with them and offers to help them, as he is in contact with Tydell and plays remote chess with him. Tydell and Roy head to Tydell corporation and after getting permission to come up to Tydell’s penthouse, Sebastian introduces Roy to him. Roy wants Tydell to extend his life span beyond the 4 years that is programmed but Tydell says that it is impossible. When Roy talks about all of the things he has done, Tydell says that it isn’t important as he was intended for and had done great things but Roy ends up killing him. Seeing what happened, Sebastian heads for the elevator but Roy catches up to him and when the elevator reaches the ground floor, Roy is shown to be in it alone. Later, Deckard is told of Tydell and Sebastian’s death and heads to Sebastian’s home to check it out, having called first and gotten Pris on the vid-screen but she had quickly hung up. When he gets to Sebastian’s place, he heads inside and ends up ambushed by Pris, who pretends to be one of Sebastian’s creations. Deckard manages to kill Pris just as Roy returns and when he sees Deckard, he quickly leaps out of the way before Deckard can shoot him. Roy taunts Deckard before reaching through the wall and grabbing his gun hand, disarming him and breaking his fingers for revenge for his dead friends. As Roy continues to taunt him, Deckard tries to run from the building, eventually trying to jump over to the next building but he is unable to make it and ends up hanging onto a beam jutting from the roof. Roy makes the jump and stands over him gloating but when Deckard starts to fall, Roy grabs him and pulls him onto the roof. As Deckard backs away, Roy sits down and starts talking to him, as his body finally falls apart since he has reached the end of his lifespan. As Deckard recovers, Gaff appears and tosses him his gun but as he walks away, he says that it is too bad she won’t live, indicating Rachael. Deckard heads back to his apartment and finds Rachael asleep on his bed. Asking her if she trusts him and having her say yes, Deckard decides to leave with Rachael but as they leave, he notices an origami unicorn on the floor and remembering Gaff’s folding origami animals at Bryant’s office, Gaff’s words play back in Deckard’s head as they leave.

Blade Runner initially met with mixed reviews from the critics but since that time, has become highly praised, currently holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Misunderstood when it first hit theaters, the influence of Ridley Scott’s mysterious, neo-noir Blade Runner has deepened with time. A visually remarkable, achingly human sci-fi masterpiece.” Philip K. Dick only saw the first 20 minutes of footage before his death but he was impressed with it, saying tat they captured his interior world perfectly, even though director Ridley Scott and screenwriter David Webb Peoples had never red the novel their movie was based on.¬†Blade Runner¬†was a disappointment at the box office, earning $33.8 million off of a $28 million budget but would develop a cult following and influence numerous sci-fi movies, video games, anime, and TV series. This led to it being selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1993 and 35 years later, a sequel would be released.

This is a fantastic movie and easily one of the best sci-fi movies to ever come out. The acting was great, with Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer doing fantastic jobs as Deckard and Roy respectively. I also liked Daryl Hannah as Pris but kind of thought that Sean Young was a little “meh” as Rachael. The story was different from the Philip K. Dick novel, with one of the main differences being that they don’t really mention the fact that almost all animals on Earth have died. However, the story in the movie, focusing on Deckard chasing down the replicants, was compelling enough on it’s own, especially if you facet in the philosophical argument as to whether the replicants were actually alive or not in terms of human life. Rutger Hauer’s ending soliloquy being especially poignant in that regard. The imagery and scenery in the movie were incredible and still hold up to this day. Definitely one of the must see movies in the sci-fi genre and in general.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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