Blair Russell’s review published on Letterboxd:
It needs to be said right away but the version of the movie I saw last night was 2007's The Final Cut, which Ridley Scott said is the definitive version of the film. Back even before I was a teenager I had seen the Director's Cut and I was too young and not well-versed in film to fully appreciate it. Even seeing the International Theatrical Release as a young adult was not enough for me; it was not until I saw The Final Cut on the big screen that I realized the movie's greatness. Yet I hadn't seen it since then. As the sequel is coming out in October (who knows for certain if it is worthy of being connected with this movie; while the talent involved is of high quality, I have a sinking feeling that like with the original, the studio will interfere somehow and foul things up), I figured it was about time I gave this a spin and reviewed it for the site.
As everyone should know the plot about hardboiled cop Deckard going after some androids known as Replicants who are raising hell in 2019 Los Angeles, so I won't dwell on that. I will instead message that even know it's a smog-choked world where it rains all the time, I'd love to live in that world. It's colorful, has an awesome aesthetic, the Japanese control everything (not too far a stretch from how things are now) and it'd mean that Atari, RCA and Pan Am Airlines are around and still big deals...
I am surprised that the movie was not loved at first. It's a moody and introspective piece which is not a slam-bang action film but rather is a neo-noir science fiction piece that takes its time telling its story about what it means to be human. Since viewings I became more familiar with the film noir genre so I now better appreciate that aspect of the movie. Also last night I was able to skim through the International Theatrical Release and I heard the Deckard narration. While that's a definite noir nod, the narration was not only not good, but it overly explained things and really dumbed down the movie for “the rubes”.
The story is compelling (although it's mood and atmosphere that is stressed the most) and the entire cast does a swell job. It certainly is the finest hour of Sean Young and also Brion James. The ambiguity of it all has to be noted; ever since it came out it has been hotly debated: is Deckard a Replicant? There's evidence which suggests either and when the star and filmmakers don't have a definitive answer, it's up to the viewer to decide. Considering that Harrison Ford is in Blade Runner 2049... but there are a number of possible explanations for that. I just hope that the sequel isn't overly explanatory or simplified for “modern audiences”.
The movie still looks great today, it's hauntingly beautiful, the villains are chilling (especially Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty) and Rachael is a different type of love interest. But to me a key aspect of the movie is the amazing score from Vangelis. It's the appropriate type of futuristic ethereal and considering that for the past few years the synthwave movement has been going strong as a cult thing and it not only cops the look of this movie but Vangelis's score is like the grandfather to the entire movement... it was appropriate for the movie.
It was a movie that almost did not happen (the original financial backers left at the last minute, so several different groups and Sir Run Run Shaw had to provide the dough) and people did not get it at first; through the passage of time, it has shown that even today it's incredibly influential and is filled with unforgettable moments, including Batty's “Tears in the Rain” speech) so even if it takes a few viewings for you, this is a must-see film. Even if the sequel does not live up to its promise, that won't diminish this picture.