Blade Runner

Blade Runner ★★★½

Prep for 2049. I don’t think there’s been a sci-fi film since that hasn’t borrowed from it in some respect (even the bad ones; watch the first 30 minutes of Attack of the Clones and tell me those towering skyscrapers and flying cars aren’t straight out of Blade Runner). The ominous tone of the story is matched visually by its noir aesthetic, evoking ‘40s B-movie crime thrillers in every fiber of its being.

This Final Cut is the best cut of the bunch, with no goofy voice-over and an improved ending, but I still came away with the same verdict: Scott excels tremendously as a visionary world-builder, but lacks a little on the human side of things. I suppose that very phrase—the human side—is the story, questioning what it is that makes us human, which characters are actually humans in the movie, and what is means to be a human anyway. It raises such questions as: If we have memories implanted in us by someone else, does that make them any less real, or any less ours? What defines the parameters of a relationship, and can we fall in love with those who aren’t like us, even if we’re acutely aware they aren’t like us? Who’s to say, or prove, that we aren’t some form of replicants ourselves? (Ever notice our “expiration dates” pretty much all tend to naturally fall within 70-90 years?)

For all its philosophical depth, though, the characters the story centers around simply aren’t that interesting. Ford and Young play Deckard and Rachael with the basic competence necessary not to break the illusion, but they both seem needlessly reserved and detached. It is suggested that since Rachael is a replicant (and Deckard possibly is as well) that the stiff acting works; they’re robots, so they should act like robots. I don’t buy it. The Nexus-6 replicants are supposed to be lifelike enough to pass as humans—“more human than human”, as the line famously goes—and so Ford and Young’s performances seem simply stilted rather than accurate. Rutger Hauer’s replicant Roy Batty, who in his final moments deals with the loneliness of his own mortality, is ironically the most human character in the film.

And so we’re left with a movie that remains continually thought-provoking, if not always emotionally or dramatically engaging. Scott’s vision here is ambitious beyond belief, but also flawed. And I still admire it, warts and all.

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