MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #97. Blade Runner (1982)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping. “

There’s a bit of a checklist for a movie to become classed as classic sci fi. Not so successful on release… A dark, dystopian future… Ambiguous ending… A genre director who takes genre seriously… That’s everything nerds got with Alien. They got it again form the same director just three years later when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner.

It’s 2019 in an over populated, overly polluted, perpetually rainy Los Angeles. Harrison Ford is Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner brought back into active service. A Blade Runner is a kind of cop who specialises in exposing and neutralising replicants, cyborgs so convincingly human, they’re almost impossible to detect. Years earlier, the dangers of these robots were realised, and it’s now illegal to have one on earth. But when four escape the off world colonies and are thought to be in LA, Deckard is brought out of retirement to take care of them.

Early on, Deckard meets Rachael, a new replicant model designed by the omnipresent Tyrell Group. Amazingly lifelike, Deckard’s biggest surprise comes when he realises Rachael as no idea that she is artificial. She’s had a lifetime of memories implanted, but is beginning to become self aware. This makes Deckard rethink some of his own prejudices against these ‘skin jobs’. As the four escaped replicants, lead by Rutger Hauer as Troy Batty, plot to take down the Tryell Corporation, Deckard begins his investigations in an attempt to expose them and take them down.

The reputation of Blade Runner seems to only grow as more years pass. Technically and visually, it’s amazing. With so much practical visual work and no CGI crutch to lean on, this is a thirty year old movie that looks better than most sci fi made today. The only problem is, I find the characters and story as oppressive as the world they’re set in.

I’m not a big fan of Blade Runner. And I don’t say that lightly or dismissively. I know that as a movie fan, I’m supposed to love it. And I’ve given it a fair chance. Watching it for this review was the third time I’ve seen it, and my opinion hasn’t really changed over that trifecta of viewings.

It looks pretty cool and I can appreciate that, but I’ve just never found anything to latch onto with the story. I never come away from it caring about what’s next for these characters, or caring one way or the other about who lives or dies. I would never say Blade Runner is a bad movie. I wouldn’t even say it’s over rated. Too many smart people with good taste love it. What I will say is, I just don’t get it.

Blade Runner
Directed By – Ridley Scott
Written By – Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples

Academy Awards
Best Art Direction / Set Direction (nominated, lost to Ghandi)
Best Effects / Visual Effects (nominated, lost E.T)

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