Ah. The cult classic. The neo-noir, cyberpunk, whatever you wanna call it, sci-fi detective movie made by Ridley Scott: Blade Runner.
I definitely came into watching this movie with a bias. First off, I’ve seen it before. Second, I love most things science fiction. And third, I love me a good detective story. Matter of fact, I’ve previously self-published a sci-fi detective story because I like movies like Blade Runner. But, I digress.
It starts with a good character
At the heart of this movie, we have an amazing character named Rick Deckard. I love Harrison Ford in this role. He captures the brooding, tired detective schtick so well that I sometimes get caught up in just watching his mannerisms and reactions more so than all the sci-fi backdrops and props that surround him.
The movie largely revolves around Deckard and his mission to hunt down and kill several androids that have made it back to Earth, where they’re forbidden. In the beginning of the movie, we’re told that Deckard is the best-of-the-best at hunting down Replicants. And as the movie plays out, we see why he’s been given that title. But we see a Deckard that is older and tired and doesn’t want to be in this position anymore. Something that Harrison Ford is astounding at portraying.
Honestly, the man makes eating a bowl of noodles entertaining to watch within the first 5 minutes he’s on screen. Just because he’s tired and depressed doesn’t mean that he can’t be a joy to watch. And don’t get me started when he’s chasing down a killer android as he’s trying to “retire” it.
The cast of amazing characters doesn’t just end at Deckard though. The beautiful femme fatale, Rachel, is a complex character whose interactions with Deckard are a blast to watch. We soon learn that she is a Replicant, an android. The same type that Harrison Ford is tasked with retiring. And this key to her character creates a fun dynamic when Deckard and Rachel soon begin to fall in love.
The main villain in the movie, Roy, the leader of the rag tag refugee replicant group, isn’t evil just for the sake of being evil. For being a synthetic being with arguably no soul, Roy has an oddly beautiful appreciation of life and a sympathetic will to live. In my opinion, I think Roy has more of a soul than 99% of the human characters on screen.
A slow burn
Now, the movie is pretty slow I’m not gonna lie. But I feel that slow pace allows this movie to give the characters a chance to breathe on-screen. Every interaction between characters is slow, drawn out, and dramatic. I honestly think that it’s that slowness that makes the movie work in the end.
We’re supposed to watch Deckard as he learns about the androids’ mannerisms, way of life, and other tell tale hints as to what separates them from humans. And it’s in these slow, drawn out moments that we can really dissect each character’s behavior. The movie makes you feel like a detective.
As the movie plays out, we’re given more and more hints about the androids’ purpose for coming back to Earth. We begin to learn about their way of life with each new interaction. And I think that’s what really makes you appreciate Deckard’s work just that much more. It’s not routine, it’s not clinical, it’s bespoke.
What I think makes this movie even more enjoyable is the world that the characters occupy. It’s a futuristic world that’s grounded in our reality. It’s dark. It’s rainy. And it’s filled with people who are just trying to “get by.” Everybody is tired. But each character, even the background ones, has a job to do and that is clear on screen. To put it a different way, it feels like there isn’t much filler here. The world feels completely fleshed out.
While we get to see some of the extravagance of the future, we spend most of our time in the seedy underbelly of this futuristic world. For some reason, I enjoy that much more than seeing the aspirational, beautiful vision of the future that we’re often presented. I think that’s mainly because the style of everything does not overshadow the substance.
Just like the characters in the movie, every prop has a purpose. Every do-dad. Every lit-up piece of tech. All of it feels like technology that would actually be in our hands in this alternate reality. The reason why I say alternate reality is because this movie actually now takes place in the past. At the beginning of the movie we learned that it’s 2019. When the movie first came out, that was 37 years in the future. Now, it’s fun to see what parts of this movie became a reality and what parts are still somewhere in our distant future.
The most important part of this movie by far, is simply the feel of the movie. It’s the look. It’s the music. It’s the dark, damp atmosphere that gets into your bones. If there’s one thing that Ridley Scott definitely has down, it’s making the most mundane parts of somebody’s life look absolutely fantastic.
The movie looks so good that, even though Deckard’s life seems pretty miserable, you actually want to be in his shoes. It’s not to be a hero. It’s not to live in the sci-fi world. It’s just because you’d like to have the world around you be this stylized. Which is funny because I’m basically contradicting what I said earlier. Before I said that everything had a clear function rather than just being stylistic. But the thing is Ridley Scott makes functional things look beautiful.
I think that, right there, is why I will regard this movie as one of my personal Top 100 Movies of all time. If you ask any of my family what to look for when trying to find me a gift, it’s finding something utilitarian. That is everything in this movie. Utilitarian. But God damn is it good looking too.
I am 100% looking forward to making a prop from this movie. I already have one of the main props in my small collection from before I started this blog. And I love that I have the chance to replicate more from this amazing movie.
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