I don’t deny Blade Runner’s influence on modern sci-fi. It brought the cyberpunk sub-genre to the film medium–creating the palette for what we still see in movies today. The visuals are superb and highly advanced for its time–even technically brilliant. It gets all its points from its aesthetics.
I’m just denying the fact that this movie is entertaining. I’m not trying to criticize Ridley Scott’s overall vision. It’s just not for me.
The world it’s set in is one we’ve seen many times in film since. Dystopian films are interesting. Especially futuristic ones. They’re a fun what-if scenario, as well as a comforting reality check of how bad this world could be. We also like seeing what creatives have in mind for our future, like flying cars, robots, etc. The futuristic films from the 1980s tend to be in a genre of their own. They showcase fun future elements while still being stuck with the ’80s mindset.
Blade Runner’s setting is fun, but at no point is this film fun to watch.
It’s set in Los Angeles in 2019. Our main character, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), is an ex-police officer–or blade runner–forced out of retirement in order to track down and kill bioengineered beings known as “replicants”. Replicants look and act exactly like humans, and were sent to an off-world colony to become slaves. But a small group of them have violently come back to Earth in attempts to extend their programmed 4-year lifespan.
At first you merely think the film is having a rough time setting up its already-convoluted premise, but we soon find out that the whole story is really much ado about nothing. The underlying themes are important, but the film doesn’t need all of its allotted time to get there. Maybe if the characters or events were interesting, we’d feel differently, but it seems the concept has taken precedent over the audience actually caring.
Along the way, Deckard befriends a more peaceful replicant, causing him to question his motives. But this isn’t all that obvious, as no one in this film seems to communicate properly or act rationally.
Blade Runner is unconventional. It isn’t Terminator or Mad Max. It doesn’t carry you at all. It’s not even plot driven. There aren’t any twists or dramatic turns, and we’re hardly invested in our characters. It has a point to make and that’s the only point.
It’s making a statement on how the humans and the robots may very well be indistinguishable in the sense that even the humans lack human qualities–perhaps even more so–yet the two species hate each other. But when your point is how humans lack humanity, then what’s going to make us care about our characters? In order for the point to be driven home, we have to be somewhat invested.
We get absolutely no backstory on Deckard, and no reason to really be interested in him. Where did he come from? Is he a robot too? We have no real reason to think otherwise. Even Ford can’t save this one.
Blade Runner is dated and sluggish. Many of the scenes feel unnecessary or just drag on far too long.
There’s no way this film’s pacing would fly nowadays without people branding the movie as pretentious or self-aggrandized. Critics apparently didn’t approve back then, but somehow its influence has made it a classic.
So for those of you who value ambiguity in movies you watch, you’ll likely enjoy Blade Runner. But entertaining, it isn’t.
I will say, however, that the last 5 minutes is somewhat thought-provoking and probably the deepest part of the film. It’s too bad the rest of it is an anti-climactic bore. A 2 hour build-up is hardly time well spent.
The two characters who meet during the climactic scene haven’t spoken or interacted for the entire duration of the movie, so when dramatics ensue, we feel robbed of what potentially could have been instead. We grasp at the emotions we should be feeling, but are consciously aware that it could have been much more if the plot was just rearranged a little bit. The payoff would have happened how it was supposed to have happened.
As an aside, the film’s score by Vangelis is one of the best I’ve heard. Also, Daryl Hannah’s performance is a standout as the twisted replicant, Pris Stratton. She’s so creepy and probably the most memorable part of the movie.