Blade Runner: The Director's Cut


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

Blade Runner
"From the costumes to set design, Scott’s film remains without equal, retaining a timeless look for more than 20 years."

As one of the most enduringly iconic films of the 20th century Blade Runner was one of the first movies transferred to DVD format in the Nineties having enjoyed a renaissance through video rental. This firmly cemented its popularity with audiences across the globe prompting Ridley Scott to edit and release the Director's Cut. The overriding pleasure of watching this version, for fans of the film or newcomers alike, is that you are seeing the picture as Scott originally intended.

Its cinematic release was, at first, greeted with mixed opinion, America was not ready to accept Scott’s bleak vision of a not-too-distant future. With time, the film became a firm favourite and has seen numerous re-releases on DVD that will culminate next year with the final release of the definitive edition. Based on the novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick, Blade Runner has retained cult status and remains popular with audiences into the 21st century.

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Set in Los Angeles 2019, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner, a police officer specially trained to hunt down and terminate or ‘retire’ replicants, androids built for working on off-world colonies. These replicants or ‘skin-jobs’ have been designed with superior strength and agility and almost equal intelligence to their inventors and so make for formidable adversaries.

Deckard is brought out of retirement for the specific purpose of tracking down a rogue Nexus 6 replicant, the most highly advanced of their kind, in the form of Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). Roy has returned to earth following the murder of human workers off world, his singular quest, to meet his maker in the hope of extending his lifespan. All replicants, it is revealed, have an in-built lifespan of only four years - any longer and they could develop thoughts and feelings making them a dangerous liability.

Roy escaped to earth along with three other replicants, Leon (Brion James), who we meet at the outset, Pris (Daryl Hannah) a basic pleasure model replicant and Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) a sex worker with a penchant for assassination. Their ruthlessness is only surpassed by their will to survive at all costs, leaving Deckard hard-pressed to ‘retire’ the trio without losing his own life in the process.

Deckard’s search for the replicants leads him to the Tyrell corporation and its founder Eldon Tyrell. Here he meets Rachael (Sean Young) who, like the femme-fatales of early noir detective thrillers, proves to complicate Deckard’s life even further. The replicants are so perfectly designed that the only way to isolate them is by asking them a series of questions that measure their emotional response, the Voight-Kampff test. By undergoing the test to gauge its effectiveness on a human subject, Rachael makes a startling discovery about her past.

The reason for Blade Runner’s cult status could be largely attributed to the fact that, along with Star Wars: A New Hope and Alien, it was one of the first and most influential sci-fi movies to come out of Hollywood. There are, of course, other films dating back to the 1950s that could be argued as having influenced the genre but Blade Runner is largely alone in having actually shaped it. From the costumes to set design, Scott’s film remains without equal, retaining a timeless look for more than 20 years.

Blade Runner is without question one of greatest films of all time, despite the initial appearance of an action film, it is richly textured, engaging everything from the themes of cyber-punk neo noir to the iconography of a Raymond Chandler detective thriller. The story of humanity's largely self-inflicted downfall mirrored with the replicants ceaseless quest for life is both entertaining and thought provoking. The accessibility afforded to Scott’s picture by the DVD format enables the viewer to see the film as it should be seen, a classic DVD you will find gathers no dust.

Reviewed on: 20 Dec 2006
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Rick Deckard is a Blade Runner, an elite cop trained to hunt down and ‘retire’ rogue replicants, android beings designed to be ‘…more human than human’.
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Scott Macdonald ***

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples, Roland Kibbee, Philip K. Dick

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James

Year: 1982

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


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