Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(Note: The following review is different from my standard reviewing style. This was specifically written for my English class. Regardless, please enjoy.)
With the release of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 on the horizon, I thought now would be a better time than any to revisit the 1982 original from Ridley Scott. My first viewing was only a few months ago actually. I wasn’t as big of a fan as most people are, but I understood why so many film enthusiasts don’t hesitate in calling it one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Watching it again over the weekend, I have to admit, my reaction was mostly the same as my first viewing. I do not think Blade Runner is perfect. I actually think it barely misses the mark of a great film. However, if I told you what was here wasn’t at least “very good”, I’d be lying to you. There is a lot to touch on.
Let’s begin with the basic plot. In the future of 2019, humans exist alongside humanoid organisms known as “Replicants”. They look, talk, and are built like humans. The lone differences are that their eyes are able to shine and they seem to lack emotion. After Replicants are made illegal and sent to a place called “Off-World” to face slave labor, four escape and make their way back to Earth. To prevent attacks on humans from events like this, specific police officers called “Blade Runners” are tasked to kill, or “retire” these Replicants. In our story, the Blade Runner is Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford.
Moving onto the characters, Ford offers a vastly different character than would be expected from him. While the likes of Han Solo and Indiana Jones are cheery, full of charm, and beaming with screen presence, Deckard is the polar opposite. He is cold. Rigged. Seemingly emotionally detached from the rest of the world. He’s a cynical person living in a cynical world. Deckard is joined by a Replicant named Rachael, played by Sean Young. At first she does not know of herself being a Replicant. Her creators have taken this measure as an effort of experimentation. Before she is even tested by Deckard early on in the film, she does everything in her power to seem human. She smokes. She knows how to play the piano. Why would a Replicant need to do those things? It leads to an interesting character.
To me, however, the best character lies in the antagonist, Batty, played by Rutger Hauer. His mission throughout the film is seemingly to prove his own humanity. He wants to show the world that he is no different from any other human. He has hopes, he has people he loves, and he has memories. His character brings up a common theme present throughout the film. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to live? Is the phrase “I think, therefore I am.” true?
All the themes, dialogue, and writing are amplified by the ambiance featured in the film, from its dark visuals only being occasionally illuminated by faint glimmers of blue light and a soundtrack that can range from suspenseful to deeply emotional. Blade Runner is very much a visual and auditory experience. Again, however, it is not perfect.
My own biggest personal problem lays in the “romance” between Deckard and Rachael. They have no romantic chemistry whatsoever and makes some specific scenes very uncomfortable to watch. Also, something that should be mentioned is that Blade Runner has multiple versions that have been released. I personally watched The Final Cut version. This is far and away the superior version. The original theatrical cut features an ending that is, put bluntly, very bad. It feels like it’s the ending to a different film tacked onto this one. (It partially is. Some of the footage was taken from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.) Finally, this is a very slow burning movie heavily inspired by noir films. If you are someone that is expecting an action-packed thrill-ride like Star Wars, you are looking in the wrong place.
In conclusion, Blade Runner is considered by most to be a “flawed masterpiece”. I’m not sure if I wholly agree with this statement, but I get where it’s coming from. It’s writing is mostly philosophic and intriguing, boasted by intelligently written characters and visuals that can suck anyone in. However, its ending can leave a sour taste in a viewer’s mouth depending on the version that they watch, and the forced romance between the two leads can be a bit unnerving for some. Regardless, I’m glad I gave this film a second go and I eagerly anticipate the release of Blade Runner 2049.
Overall, I’m going to give Blade Runner an 8/10.