I’ve had a rather enjoyable time over the past couple of weeks, as I explore some of the iconic films I have yet to see. Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’ was, rather aptly, good. The Coen Brothers’ ‘No Country For Old Men’ was even better. And Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was phenomenal. Up next on my journey back and forth through cinematic history, was Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’; a film which is seemingly adored by film fans and critics alike. So, naturally, I was keen to find out why. And with a reboot in the pipeline, and Scott’s latest project, ‘The Martian’, landing soon, what better time to familiarise myself with one of his most coveted works.
At the time of release, the events of this film will have felt like a distant reality. But now, the year 2019 is frighteningly close, and the idea of a world with widespread artificial intelligence – called replicants in this instance – is not all that absurd anymore. As is always the case with mankind’s attempts at creating intelligent life however, the replicants have turn rogue, and after inflicting a massacre on a human colony, an order for their termination has been issued. When four of these man-made outlaws attempt to track down their creator on Earth, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with hunting down and eliminating them.
In a far cry from the charm and humour of Han Solo – one of my favourite film characters of all time – Harrison Ford came across as being rather stiff and inconsistent. There were moments where some emotion leaked into the performance, but on the whole, Ford’s Rick Deckard was as flat and robotic as the replicants he was chasing. Speaking of which, Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah brought a somewhat intriguing element to their roles, Roy and Pris. With their characters blurring the line between manufactured life forms and sentient beings, it was interesting to watch them try to strike a balance in that respect, and they did a pretty good job as the antagonists of the story, providing a steady, menacing presence throughout.
I imagine, back in 1982, this was a very exciting and innovative film. But in today’s cinematic climate, where we see robots and futuristic dystopias pretty much every month, ‘Blade Runner’ felt horribly dated. The tone of the film reminded me very much of ‘The Matrix’, a film which is part of an exclusive handful of films I have switched off before completion. I persevered with ‘Blade Runner’ because I had faith that all the praise the film garnered would come to fruition, at some point. Sadly, for me, the film never got going. Maybe it’s just me? I’m certainly in the minority in criticising this “classic”. But a slow opening failed to capture my attention sufficiently, and it was a losing battle from then on. The only redeeming feature, is the way the film is shot and composed, which was undeniably intelligent filmmaking. That said, you can film anything you want using clever techniques, but a cool camera angle can only do so much.
I know that so many people love this film, but that positive feeling is perplexing to me. ‘Blade Runner’ was guilty of spoiling a relatively interesting concept, creating a dull, stagnating progression through the narrative. At no point was I enthralled or gripped by the characters or what little action there was on offer. I was exceptionally disappointed with Ridley Scott’s supposed masterpiece and had it been another night, I may well have ended up switching it off, as much as that pains me. I think this is definitely a matter of personal taste and interest, but the only positive I can take from this experience is that I’ve ticked this one off the list, and I never need to watch it again.
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah