If I had to stake claim to my favorite science fiction film at this moment I would easily claim it to be "Blade Runner". Despite its 1982 release date, this dark and gritty detective story continues to hold its own (if not gathering more steam) in its depiction of the future, analysis of humanity, and its gaze on the eternal science fiction question 'what is human'. The film is rather slow burning in its neo-noir visual style and build, but its depth and execution more than make up for it. Even today, "Blade Runner" carries a film excellence that became a mark for all science fiction films since to be compared to.
Deckard (Ford) is an ex-Blade Runner, a type of law enforcement created to hunt down faux created humans called Replicants from going AWOL, who is brought back into the game to hunt down a group of Replicants attempting to bypass their fail-safe four year life spans. Lead by a militant Replicant Batty (Hauer), Deckard is going to have his hands full just stopping these supposedly deranged things.
*Note: There are various versions of this film out there now available to watch. This review will try not to give away too much about the various endings or nuances between the versions. It will be more of an overview of the films generalities. I highly suggest watching the various versions and starting with the Director's Cut first as it is generally a great jumping off point into the experience that is "Blade Runner".
With Ridley Scott's science fiction visual prowess (the man also directed the stellar "Alien"), one of the highlights and most memorable parts of "Blade Runner" is its dark visuals of the future. The movie is shot extensively in the dark with significant use of its setting (the increasingly vertical and larger than life cityscape) and with its subtle acting from a stellar cast and its fairly limited dialogue, this film rocks on so much atmosphere its not even funny. Granted, as I mentioned prior, it does promote a slow burning story build as a plethora of characters are introduced and built up. If you allow yourself to be embraced by the atmosphere then its a riveting watch...but it might throw some off with how slow it moves.
It also has to be mentioned that Rugter Hauer as the villain Batty is one of the greatest villains to grace the screen. His borderline insanity and cool collected calculations make him a perfect opposite against the rather flustered and emotionally distraught Harrison Ford. Particularly when the lines of 'human' begin to fuzz out in the last act (during a very intense chase sequence) and Hauer's character suddenly gathers a sympathetic tone. This duality of villain and hero make the last act something to be remembered.
The different versions contain various depths of how the film goes into its moral ambiguities and how it approaches them (with the Theatrical Cut having a rather lackluster voice over to give it a more extensive Noir feel). So to analyze its depth of thought is something that might spoil the viewing experience. Thusly, just know that with the different versions you may watch have different undertones to how the film plays out - which only heightens how well rounded it is.
Once again, "Blade Runner" comes highly recommended for fans of smart science fiction. It's distopian look and atmosphere of mechanical/organic comparisons rocks the pure science fiction visual style of the film and despite its age holds up amazingly well to this day. Executed damn near perfectly (in some versions) and even greater in its writing, "Blade Runner" is a must see, if not must own.
Written By Matt Reifschneider