A technological triumph; yes – but with a soggy story.
We’re in futuristic Los Angeles and the year is 2019. “Blade Runner” follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford); an ex-cop whose official title adopts the same name as the film. As a ‘blade runner’, he assassinates ‘replicants’ which are androids that act and look like real humans. Rick is called out of retirement when four replicants decide to abandon their colony and infiltrate back into Earth; living undercover and desperate to find a way to extend their life.
During his mission, Rick’s beliefs in the system are questioned when he unexpectedly falls in love with a young woman named Rachel. Rachel, however, is a replicant. This leads to Rick being torn between what is right and what is wrong; his newfound love influences his mission to exterminate the rebel replicants.
In anticipation of watching ‘Blade Runner 2049’ , it was only right I enveloped myself in the story properly. I always had the impression that the original film was one of the all time greats so it took me by surprise that it didn’t resonate with critics when it was first released. FYI, this review is for the original film, not the directors cut. If – like me – you are waaching it for the first time this year; one thing to remember is that the this came out in 1982. Don’t get me wrong, It’s no Metropolis. But a visionary such as Ridley Scott, producing this calibre of work in an era where it was rather sparse, is something to be appreciative of.
The biggest wow factor with this film lies within the technological aspects. It provides us with a depiction of the world 40 years in the future. Ridley’s vision consists of miserable skyscrapers towering the street; ugly flying cars the common method of transportation; blimps and billboards endlessly repeating the same old commercial drudgery as they limber through the air that is suffocating-ly dense with smog. The darkness only interrupted by rain that is a continuous element.
Down below, it is like an ant farm. Bodies scuttering everywhere and the majority of them are Oriental. It amazingly could qualify for a futuristic Tokyo. For a film, with limited technological capability, to produce such detail in the production is simply brilliant. And not only that, but it leaves the viewers with their own sense of claustrophia, as we quietly parade through the madness in the opening shots. Although, why do films set in the future always think that cars will be flying?! (PET PEEVE)
Quietly finding his place in the jungle is Harrison Ford, who plays a nonchalant Rick Deckard. Tasked with the goal of eliminating the four replicants; headed by Rutger Hauer as Roy and Daryl Hannah as his lover, Pris. However, not all replicants are evil and how do we explore this? One guess – love, of course. Deckard is Romeo and a young beauty named Rachel (Sean Young) is Juliet. Their ‘two households’ acting as the wedge between them – Rachel is a replicant. This method of story is quite predictable, but the underlying motifs it draws out are of significance.
What is wrong and what is right in this situation? Replicants are androids, they’re not suppose to have feelings. Yet, Roy and Pris are a strong example to prove this wrong. They are desperately trying to find a way to allow their love to carry on forever. (Androids can only live for 4 years) On the parallel, is it wrong for humans to be killing replicants? If their emotional capacity mirrors humans and they feel just the same; is it right to end their life early? Shouldn’t they have that choice? This theme of morality is the dominator and something Scott wants us to debate with; just as much as Rick debates his own morals when his feelings for Rachel grows.
I’m appreciative of the intentions but as my title dictates, the story is a bit soggy. Scott is a visual genius clearly, but the story lacks plausibility. I think the characters were lacking real substance, let down by a ‘vanilla’ plot most likely. The issue with me is that it seems like it’s a standard story in an extraordinary world, you wish for it to be more. One other positive to draw upon is the musical accompaniment by Vangelis; a combination of classical melodies and futuristic synthesizers.
To briefly touch on the performances, I wasn’t entirely impressed by Ford. I don’t think he brought much to the role, and perhaps not his fault, but the narrative voiceover he delivers is so depressingly monotone and it just doesn’t work. Hauer and Hannah were fabulous . I love the contrasting energies between her acrobatic force and his stony-faced demeanour; almost like Harley Quinn and The Joker.
Based on the novel by Phillip K Dick, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ ; Scott transfers the same question to this film. What are the differences between humans and machines? Due to the moralistic debate Scott creates; the viewers can therefore succumb themselves to his question. However, the journey to that point is the films weakness. It’s flatter than a desert with no self-raising flour. Love is the most universal language shown on the screen so filmmakers have to keep making it interesting. Although this is suppose to be anything but boring – I got bored of it.
The ambition behind it still makes it a desirable watch and it should be deemed as one of the classics. I know many people who wouldn’t appreciate the real artistry, which is unfortunate. But I feel you need to appreciate cinema to truly understand the stamp this film produces. If you are sci-fi fan, rejoice – this one is for you.
3 out of 5 Harley Quinn cartwheels
P.S – I’m going to try a different layout with my reviews, starting with the rating system above. Let me know what you guys think? If it’s tacky or if works?