Sunday, October 8, 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner

I wasn't sure which version to choose but landed on the final cut for this review. I remember seeing the film at a much young age but not understanding much of it at the time. I read Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a few years ago and enjoyed it as I do most of the author's work. The world built in Ridley Scott's film and the novel along with the complex philosophical questions proposed by this work of fiction make this piece of entertainment more engaging than just simple sci-fi or action movie. The film begins with a block of text explaining that the Tyrell Corporation has advanced artificial intelligence to a stage where they are equal if not better than humans. The resulting replicants are used in off-world colonization until a violent mutiny makes them outlaws on the planet Earth. Blade Runners are bounty hunters that hunt down these replicants.

The initial scene shows Leon Kowalski (Brion James) undergoing a strange interview about a turtle flipped over in the desert and his memory of his mother when Leon stands up and shoots the interviewer. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is eating noodles when Gaff (Edward James Olmos) picks him up in his flying car. The skyline is enchanting and the visuals in this film are still stunning twenty-five years later. Deckard receives an assignment from Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) over whiskey. Skin-jobs, the derisive term for replicants, have taken over a ship and snuck back on Earth. Deckard refuses because he quit the job of being a blade runner but Bryant threatens him into cooperating. Deckard is given a list of Nexus 6 replicants to hunt down and heads to the Tyrell Corporation headquarters to test the Voight-Kampff machine to see if it can identify a replicant or human.

Deckard is met by Rachael (Sean Young) who questions his motives and Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) who asks to test the machine on Rachael. After running through the series of questions, Deckard determines that Rachael is a replicant. Tyrell has made Rachael harder to identify with fake memories. Deckard and Gaff head to Leon's address and searches his apartment finding a scale and photographs. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) rendezvous with Leon and they go to the laboratory of Hannibal Chew (James Hong) to find out about their four-year expiration date but Chew doesn't have answers since he only designs the replicant eyes but he does give him the name of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson).

Deckard returns home to find Rachael waiting in the elevator. She tries to prove to him that she's a human. He tells her the memories are fake but he feels bad and tries to play it off as a joke, but she storms off anyway. Meanwhile, J.F. Sebastian encounters Pris (Daryl Hannah) and believing she's just a lost woman, he invites her into his robot-filled apartment. Deckard investigates the photograph and the scale leading him to a bar. He tries to invite Rachel out but she doesn't want to come out. He finds the snake charmer, Zhora Salome (Joanna Cassidy) and infiltrates her dressing room under false pretenses, one of the better parts of Ford's performance. She catches on his ploy, elbows him and sets off into the futuristic streets. Deckard chases her and finally shoots her through a store window. 

Bryant informs Deckard that Rachael has also escaped and that he should hunt her down. Leon assaults Deckard and nearly kills him but Rachael shoots Leon in the head. Back at Deckard's apartment, Rachael struggles with the realization that she's a replicant and proposes the idea that Deckard might not pass the Voight-Kampff test. Deckard is too exhausted to listen to her. In Sebastian's apartment, Pris has painted her face and invites Roy over. The two replicants intimidate Sebastian into taking them to the Tyrell headquarters. Roy confronts Tyrell wanting more life but Tyrell won't help him so Roy crushes his skull in his hands. Deckard goes to Sebastian's apartment and searches among the robots. Pris attacks him but Deckard manages to shoot her. Roy returns to find Pris dead and Deckard shoot at him. Roy breaks Deckard's hand but allows him a head start running away. The blade runner and replicant fight through the apartment building up onto the roof. Before Roy can kill Deckard, his lifespan expires. Deckard returns to Rachael and the two of them set out on the run. I enjoyed revisiting this film a lot and look forward to watching the sequel. 

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