Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut – 1992 (1982)
Director Ridley Scott
Starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, M.Emmett Walsh, Edward James Olmos, William Sanderson, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, Joe Turkel
Screenplay Hampton Fancher, David Peoples based upon the story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick
“This was not called execution, it was called retirement.”
Few movies have received the critical blessing of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The grit, grime, endless advertising and Asian influence was a contrast from much of the futuristic Utopian visions that had been expressed in Sci-Fi up to that time. Some see a relationship between this and Scott’s first classic work, Alien, in that both films have androids as central characters. While it definitely benefits from its Philip K. Dick source, as well as the subtle direction of Scott, time has left it a touch dated, and the acting has not improved things one bit.
The gist of the story is a futuristic film noir private eye. Richard Decker (Ford) is the reluctant tracker of renegade androids who have landed on earth in search of a way to defy their programming and live a longer life. His reluctance is brought on by nothing but the script, judging on how easy it is to change his mind. Decker’s first trip is to visit the owner of Tyrell (Turkel) Corporation, who is responsible for making these beings. While there he comes across an android (Young) who is convinced by implanted memories that she is the niece of Tyrell. Of course he is smitten by this android, and eventually she too will be added to the list of those to be retired.
As Decker, Ford spends a lot of the film getting his butt kicked. By the end, it had be wondering why the heck he was hiredfor the job. If his performance is the kind that emits
a sterling reputation as “the best,” its surprising that the robots weren’t running all of civilization.
Young and Hanna seem appropriately cast as robots, as their
performances have the range of, say, Tiffany Brissette from Small Wonder. At the time of release, I might have given them credit for nailing the role, but having seen much of their later work, I can see it certainly wasn’t a method acting.
The rest of the performances, save for Hauer’s nutjob Batty, are nothing to write home about. The script is not that bad, it’s just dry as hell. Which is a good contrast to the incessantly stormy L.A. weather of 2019. It is apparently raining and dark all the time. Hopefully the Dodgers had a roof by then, or else there’d be nothing but rain outs.
The atmosphere is just part of the plan for Ridley Scott, who does a decent job making the special effects, unless you compare it to The Empire Strikes Back or even Scott’s own Alien. Though possessing nowhere near the budget as the Star Wars films, he seems to be pushing the limits of his skill to work within his limits here, While many of the subsequent re-releases of the film have made things cleaner, but the ships still only rise as fast as the rope levers would move it.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to the film is the Vangelis score. Using the early ’80’s reed-thin keyboard sounds of the day, the annoying sounds run rampant throughout the movie. This makes it impossible for one to think of anything but the big shoulder pad, Flock of Seagulls haircut look. Or maybe just Tron.
There is a certain poetry to the last half hour of the film, and there are several shots that have become hallmarks of his visual style. When its time to get moving, the story really kicks into place. His courage to end the film in a non-violent way works astoundingly well, even today. Overall, the film leaves some questions unanswered, but it doesn’t insist that you even ask them.
Part of the film’s cult status is in the pairing of the author and director. It is a good film, but nowhere near a classic,. This is not what one could consider a failure, just something that one would expect to come closer to its reputation.
(*** out of *****)