A Simple Sci-Fi Epic
There are movies that transcend the genre and leave influences that future films pick up and try to replicate. In our time, films such as Star Wars or the Marvel movies could be considered as such due to their influence on popular culture today. Back in 1982, Blade Runner was considered to be a misunderstood masterpiece as it did not fare well with critics at the time, but began to show influences towards other movies. Many years later, critics claim Blade Runner to be a classic and a fantastic science fiction movie that audiences will enjoy. Sadly, I feel differently after watching this film three times. While there are some interesting cinematography, themes, and settings involved, Blade Runner does not capture the essence of a “masterpiece” due to its pacing in plot, ambiguous motivations, and all around simplicity.
The story is set in the year 2019, where society has created these highly advanced beings known as replicants. Replicants are almost identical to humans except much stronger so society used them for slavery until they revolted. Due to the revolution, the replicants are now hunted by people known as “Blade Runners” who specialize in taking down replicants. Deckard (Harrison Ford) is one of the Blade Runners who becomes enveloped in a mission to track down some rogue replicants that have invaded the planet.
Harrison Ford does a good enough job in his role as the Blade Runner, providing the suave, smart, and arrogant hero he was known for through all of his roles at the time. He is shown to be a tired individual who sees this mission as a way out from all the war he has experienced. You get a sense of a worn out character, but it isn’t fully explored or given the depth it deserves to make him a full three dimensional character. Like many of the other characters in the film, he lacks layers that allow you to root for him other than the fact that he is the protagonist.
The visuals in the movie are amazing, and it is clear that this film had an influence on many other films following it. There is a neo-noir feel to the dystopian Los Angeles that feels alive and real. There are flying cars, holographic posters, and so much more high tech in the skies and air. When looking at the ground level, it seems rugged and dreary which gives the movie the perfect setting to capture the essence in. Many films after this definitely try to capture the same visuals and aesthetic this film possesses and it is stunning for the time this film came out.
The film was considered a cult classic and a masterpiece by the majority of individuals, however I still don’t understand why people thought this movie was so good. I did not enjoy the film on the first viewing, upon the second viewing I appreciated it a little more but still not amazing, and on the third viewing I was getting a little more bored. The movie is a marvel to look at, but it lacks a lot of depth and plot development that I feel I have seen done better in other movies.
The plot of this movie makes it seem like it will explore the concept of what it means to be human. With the replicants being almost identical to humans and society aiming to hunt these beings down, I was under the impression that the movie would throw some curveballs to show how humans and replicants are the same and the line is blurred with humanity. Sadly, the movie only scratches the surface of this concept with Deckard and never aims to explore it with any of the other supporting characters or villains. A movie like this had a lot of potential to explore these themes but sadly it does not.
Instead, we are following Deckard on his journey to track down and exterminate the replicants. That is basically what the movie is, a bounty hunter film. He tracks down the replicants and attempts to kill them, that’s it. With each kill he makes, you see how he reacts and how it affects him in the moment. But those emotions are never explored and left ambiguous to why he feels that way. The movie hints at something with his character and lends a bit of depth, but there isn’t expansion on through the story that would make the ending reveal leave more of an impact. All around, the plot is too simple for the way this film was pitched to me.
Maybe my expectations for this film were a bit too high, but the the fact this film was explained to be an exploration of humanity had me excited. Instead we are given great visuals and a good performance by Harrison Ford that carries the film. The movie lacks depth in the exploration of its characters and the line between what makes humans what we are which is a big missed opportunity. There is some exploration, but it is not given the depth it needs to be considered a “masterpiece” for me. I hope the new film capitalizes on these themes more than this film did and I can maybe see the brilliance that so many other critics saw.