Cinema Revisited: Blade Runner

Cinema: Revisited is a weekly film critique by film podcasters Anastasia Landeros and Gustavo Buenrostro. It’s not, however, just any weekly film critique. Landeros and Buenrostro are reviewing classic films that have been critically acclaimed in the past, but haven’t been examined in recent years. For the month of October, Landeros and Buenrostro will be revisiting Halloween films from different film genres. In collaboration with the release of “Blade Runner 2049,” however, Landeros and Buenrostro will be reviewing the original “Blade Runner (Theatrical Cut)” from 1982.

 

The film is a neo-noir thriller set in 2019 Los Angeles directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator”). Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a former cop, or blade runner,  who returns to the force and hunts down four humanoid robots. The robots, called replicants, steal a ship and live on earth illegally.

Deckard finds and confronts one of the four replicants named Zhora (Joanna Cassidy). When Zhora realizes that Deckard is a blade runner, she attacks him and runs. Deckard chases her through the streets, where he shoots and kills her.

Anastasia: This scene was really confusing to me. Why was Deckard acting like a naive representative of some worker’s union? She doesn’t know him, so he could have played himself and she wouldn’t have suspected anything beyond her regular suspicions as an exotic dancer. I would have caught onto him being a blade runner too. His character within a character was bad. I wonder if that was intentional. I’m not sure why it would be, though.

Gustavo: I want to know whose idea it was to have Zhora go through so many shopping windows. It looked completely silly and unnecessary. As one of the only action sequences in the film, it was flat.

After Rachel (Sean Young) kills the second replicant on the run, Leon Kowalski (Brion James), following a fight with Deckard, return to Deckard’s house and they talk about what would happen if Rachel were to travel north and disappear. Deckard tells her that because she saved his life, he wouldn’t chase her, but another blade runner would. As they talk about Rachel’s implanted memories, the romantic tension comes to a head as they both come to terms with their feelings for each other. Deckard moves in for a kiss, but Rachel pulls away and tries to leave. Deckard follows her to the door and refuses to let her go. He pushes her away from the door and kisses her.

Anastasia: There were all kinds of things wrong with this scene. I understand that Deckard was scared to start feeling the emotions he was feeling toward Rachel, but did he have to be so aggressive toward her? I cringed pretty hard when she rejected him and he chased her to the door to stop her from leaving, then pushed her against the wall to kiss her. The worst part was when he forced her to kiss him back when he finally got her in his grips. It was too aggressive.

Gustavo: This scene made me feel uncomfortable. First off, the chemistry between Ford and Young is non-existent. The whole exchange was forced and came off like the character had no choice but to sleep with Deckard.

After Deckard confronts the final replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), in an abandoned building, they finally meet on the roof. With his trigger fingers having been broken by Batty earlier in the scene, Deckard tries to jump onto a nearby building but comes up short and, instead, clings to edge of it. Batty makes the jump and watches as Deckard clings to the side of the building. Deckard slips and is about to fall to his death when Batty catches him and pulls him up onto the building. Batty recites the famous “Tears in Rain” and dies.

Anastasia: This scene saved the entire film for me. I finally understood what the point of the film was here and Hauer’s acting was superb. I had always read about the “Tears in Rain” speech and had seen it a few times. Watching the rest of film put the speech into full perspective for me and I felt sorry for Roy, which is not an easy thing to do for a character that kills people throughout the entire film. The release of the dove before he dies is a little melodramatic, though. That could have been left out.

Gustavo: Probably one of the best scenes in the film, it is a culmination of Roy’s character. It is the understanding that he loves life, and is willing to save the life of the man that has been killing his friends. The dove was a little much, though.

Final thoughts

Gustavo: In the end, I don’t understand why so many people regard this film as ahead of its time. The main problem I had with the film was it did a lot of world-building, which I believe brought the story of the film down. With the pointless narration by Ford in the beginning, to the boring explanation of the replicants’ creation, it felt like even Ford didn’t believe his own lines at times. I give the film 2 popcorns out of 5.

Anastasia: I agree that the film did a lot of world-building and that it weighed on the story too much. It was slow, but since it was a noir film, I can forgive that. What I can’t forgive is how hard it was to keep track of. I felt that if I lost focus for even a second, I would lose the story. I did like the overall concept, though. Watching Roy’s process of coming to terms with dying is a pretty universal concept and I can see why this film became popular. I think the message was muddied by Scott’s need to be progressive, and that did the film a real disservice. This film needs to be watched a few times to really understand it. For that reason, I give the film 3.5 popcorn out of 5.

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