It’s a shame she won’t live. Then again, who does?
Blade Runner came out the year I was born, just like Thriller. It’s kind of humbling. I mean, I still look and feel pretty young, but of the two of us, Blade Runner has aged better. It’s only gotten better, I should say. Got a chance to see the Director’s Cut on the big screen and jumped at the chance. It’s just a magnificent movie, misunderstood in its own time, still only vaguely understood in our time. It’s right up there with Ridley Scott’s absolute best, a truly visionary film that merges and melds influences until it becomes its own beautiful masterpiece. The visuals are astounding, the color palette and cinematography creating a moody, atmospheric film and the special effects look better today than they did in 1982, I think. The cast is nothing short of wonderful. M. Emmett Walsh is great in a small supporting part. Sean Young is career best as the enigmatic Rachel. Daryl Hannah gives nothing less than a star-making performance as Pris; she’s magnetic, sexy and, in that final scene with her pale skin, chopped hair and black line across her eyes, truly terrifying. But good as everyone else is, this film comes down to Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. Hauer is career best, in my opinion, as the passionate, psychopathic replicant Roy Batty; he’s chilling, strange, sympathetic, brilliant. And Ford gives one of his best performances here as the emotionally closed Deckard. It’s a minimal performance, almost entirely free of Ford’s standard array of mannerisms and the easy charm that they communicate. He’s at his best when he’s being still, just listening and thinking; in the scene where he watches Batty die, he does almost nothing but those things, but you feel the weight of everything weighing on his shoulders. It’s easily his least sympathetic character; he would later play an actual murderer that we would watch casually leave his wife to die, but that guy was charming in his own sick way. Rick Deckard is dangerous, too good at killing to be anything but frightening, not charming in the least.
Having discussed the quality of the film, I suppose it falls to discussing the meaning of the film, but it’s been turned over and over so many times that it’s probably tiresome to go into it again. Ridley Scott says Deckard is a replicant; I disagree strongly. One of the themes of the movie, I think, is the dichotomy of Batty and Deckard in the realm of their emotional lives. Batty is a robot, entirely fabricated, but he lives a rich life of extreme emotions; we see him rage and weep and threaten. Deckard is the human, with a real soul, but his existence is dull, empty, emotionally dead. Even when he attacks Rachel, in one of the most disturbing scenes in the film, his emotion is anger; it’s a devastating scene, a disturbing exploration of sexual power dynamics, dominance, submission, rape and predation. It’s the false human that has the real soul; the real human feels almost nothing. That loses all of its power if Deckard is himself a replicant. Anyway, it’s an astounding film. Nearly every scene is brilliant. Gorgeous direction, great performances, a smart, minimal script; the film hits every beat just right. It’s slow, moody, intense, but gorgeous. And, oh, yes, I had forgotten; what an amazing score. But the film is just jam packed with meaning; it’s a deep, deep movie and I was heartened to hear people actively discussing the movie as I left the theater. Over thirty years on, it’s still making people talk. And making them wonder. 4 stars.
tl;dr – sci-fi/noir/arthouse movie remains perfect, a thought-provoking, emotionally resonant masterpiece; performances, direction, music and script of near unparalleled excellence. 4 stars.