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13. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Blade Runner

November 1, 2018

Director: Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, David Peoples
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel
Runtime: 117Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1982

 

★★★★☆
 

Inspired by Philip K. Dick’s story, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is a monolithic philosophical tale that wraps itself around the roots of Greek tragedy and a neo-noir framework.

 

Hampton Fancher and David Peoples’ screenplay paints a bleak canvas of humanity’s arrogance at their ability to create and destroy, and a takedown of the industries that exacerbate these tendencies, both morally and ethically.

 

L.A. 2019 is a world of contemporary repute in its depiction of the old and new cityscapes. Rustic architecture and (now) technological vestiges that merge seamlessly in a world of flying cars and towering neon skylines of blue and orange.

 

The film's visual language and design is as much about what we see as what we think and feel - in keeping with the film’s oedipal themes. Syd Mead’s concept designs are brought to staggering reality by the art department and Douglas Trumbull’s unbelievable FX work. Scott’s direction is as precise and disciplined as it’s ever been, and Vangelis score pulsates with synthetic and unfamiliar majesty.

 

Deckard is more like a grizzled anti-hero than any traditional lead, with Ford delivering a painfully physical performance of purpose and mass. Sean Young is mesmeric as the powerfully remarkable femme fatale, Rachel, even if she and Ford share little to no chemistry. A major detriment which undercuts what is supposed to be a core component of the piece, and ultimately a sad and undernourished failing alongside the not terribly interesting main plot as it develops.

 

But Rutger Hauer owns the film as sympathetic replicant antagonist Roy Batty, who, in contrast to his being, is the most affecting, devastating and inherently human character in the entire film.

 

This is a world of individuals screaming at the dark, the crippling nature of mortality and how we all – human or otherwise – must eventually face our inevitable decay, and the unstable relationship between gods and men.

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