Sep 2, 2011

[Movies] Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982 / 2007)

It's a little weird how so many "must-see" movies end up sitting around our virtual "to-watch" lists for an extended period of time no matter how closely the movie fits into our core interests. Maybe it's because we feel secure in the fact that it's just waiting for us to get around to liberating them from storage while newer movies generate a false sense of urgency.

So ultimately, I have no good reason for not having watching Blade Runner before this year. It was just one of those movies that had managed to slip away for one reason or another. I knew little factoids about the movie as part of my general pop culture appreciation spin but that was about it. And yet time and time again I'd forgot about the movie and only remember it when it would get mentioned on some top ten list or some other movie review. The fact that I still hadn't seen it started to gnaw at me.

Thankfully my partner was game to watch it with me. He had already seen it but of course it had been some time since that last time he had done so. And thus the movie was still a welcome experience for both of us. And man, I'm more than glad that I finally got around to watching it in earnest. The movie is hard to compare to anything else that came out at the time or perhaps even any movie that has come out since.

Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction movie directed by Ridley Scott (of Alien and Black Hawk Down fame) with a screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples as loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The movie was nominated for many awards and actually won a few of them at the time. The movie has also been featured on a number of "best film" lists here and there.

It's November 2019 and retired police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is brought in by officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos). It's not an arrest - in fact he's been called back by his former boss Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh). It turns out that previously, Deckard was a "blade runner" - an officer who specialized in tracking down replicants and "retiring them." Replicants are artificial lifeforms - essentially robots. A group of these replicants have managed to escape to Earth and now he was being asked to aid in their retrieval.

He's made to watch a video of one of the replicants being interviewed. In what is known as the Voight-Kampff test to distinguish humans from replicants based on their empathic responses, a previous blade runner named Holden (Morgan Paull). But the replicant Leon (Brion James) ends up shooting Holden before the test can definitively declare him as a replicant. Thus his mission is to locate and retire Leon and the other three escapees - Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah).

Initially, it seems the movie is just meant to play out like your classic detective tale. Deckard has to scour the city for clues of the replicants' whereabouts. But in turn, the replicants have a twofold mission - to figure out a way to extend their artificially-capped lives while also trying to find a way to sstop Deckard from succeeding in his mission.

Another unique element in the mix is Rachael (Sean Yong), the assistant of the head of the Tyrell Corporation (Joe Turkel). It's revealed that she too is a replicant, but one who genuinely believes she's human. She's different from the others since she has better empathic responses that would given the Voight-Kampff test a greater challenge in terms of weeding out the truth of her identity.

Then you really get to the meat of the story as we are taken through a journey about what sentience and thus what intelligent life really means. Do these bioengineered beings deserve the independent life that they think they deserve? How can one truly distinguish between mundane artificial constructs like computers and these self-aware and highly intelligent robots?

There are multiple cuts of the movie that have been released over the years and I'm pretty sure we got a hold of the Final Cut, which was released in 2007. It's hard to argue whether one version is better than the other since they all tell the same story with slight touches and modifications here and there. Plus this is more or less the only version where Ridley Scott had full control over the editing process so it's fairly safe to assume that this version best captures what he wanted to express.

The movie is pretty amazing, one that is very different from most other flicks I've seen. It had a good amount of action and a strong central character in Ford's interpretation of Deckard. There's a lot of conflict on multiple levels and a lot of different themes and concepts for the viewer to latch onto and ponder at greater length as needed. And now I fully understand and agree with why everyone says this movie is a must-see. From the cinematography to plot and even including Daryl Hannah's acting, the movie is top notch.

Blade Runner is the kind of science fiction movie that we see so rarely of given the current notions of what makes a successful movie these days. Perhaps Hollywood will remember what made such movies great and return to these kinds of concepts some day - hopefully before they totally kill us all in remake hell. This movie deserves a full 5 iconic "Spinner" cars out of a possible 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment