Cyberpunk is, without a doubt, my favorite sub-genre of Science Fiction, and the influence that Blade Runner has had on Cyberpunk is second to only William Gibson’s Neuromancer, in my opinion. Re-watching this movie years after the first time I’d seen it has been a trip. I’ve seen a long list of anime (and played a long list of games) from the past 35 years that have drawn directly from Blade Runner. It influenced all of the “retrowave” and “synthwave” music heard today. It, along with Gibson and Rucker, helped shaped my view of what Cyberpunk looks like. Without Blade Runner, Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell films may have looked completely different (and may have more closely matched the manga than they do now). Without Blade Runner, Bubblegum Crisis (and its sequels, spin-offs, remakes, etc.) would certainly not exist, nor would any of the works that it influenced. Without Blade Runner, most of my favorite pieces of Science Fiction would not exist.
A simple story that’s been told time and time again: Retired police officer is asked to come back to the force for an especially difficult case, one for which he is considered to be “the best man for the job.” But, imagine that with a twist . . . this is set 35 years in the future. High tech, low life — the classic description of Cyberpunk crime drama.
In this future, synthetic humans (known as replicants) are produced by the Tyrell Corporation to work on the off-world colonies (space colonies). After many years, some replicants started to rebel. Those that made it back to Earth are retired (killed) by special police officers known as Blade Runners. Four replicants, considered especially dangerous, have escaped and made it down to Earth. The LAPD calls back a retired Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), to stop them.
The movie takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles, that, personally, resembles Hong Kong, Tokyo, or New York City more than it ever will Los Angeles. Huge, dark, and alive, the city is covered in skyscrapers, people, technology, and ruins that serve as a reminder to a former affluence. My only issue with the setting is how flat everything looks during the huge aerial shots. Star Wars, released 5 years prior, had less than half of the budget of Blade Runner, and did not have the same problems. That said, it’s only a minor grievance.
As Deckard progresses, you can really feel how tired and burnt-out he is, even though that isn’t used for any purpose in the movie. When he gets to the Tyrell Corporation at the beginning and administers the test (used to determine if the subject is a replicant) on Rachael (Tyrell’s personal replicant), Deckard begins questioning the depth and meaning of humanity, and he carries that with him through the closing scene of the movie. Deckard continues to interact with Rachael throughout the movie, and each time he does he gains more of an understanding of what it is to be alive, while finding more doubt in himself if he knows the real answer. Roy’s (one of the replicant fugitives) interaction with Deckard on the final rooftop BEFORE delivering his famous monologue shows that he found the answer to what being alive, being human really means. Through his actions on that last rooftop and the monologue, Roy imparts that knowledge unto Deckard. With that, Deckard helps Rachael attempt to escape.
The action is quick-paced. Each introduction of “future technology” is easily understandable through context, if not flat-out explanation. Some of the scenes seem rushed or cut, but, without an immediate sequel, the movie sits finely.
Anything that I can think of that “needed more explanation,” I understood just fine through continuing to watch and seeing how everything all fit and ended. By itself, Blade Runner is a neo-noir, Cyberpunk, crime drama masterpiece, and any change that I could suggest in hindsight would hardly be fitting of it or its message.
- Plot: 7/10
- Acting: 7/10
- Special Effects: 6/10
- Overall: 7/10
Title: Blade Runner (The Final Cut)
Released: June 1982
Director: Ridley Scott
Distributor: Warner Bros.