I haven’t done one of these here Live Reviews (they definitely turn out different than the post-film reflective reviews) for quite some time – maybe a year or more.  But I DO have to catch up, and more importantly, I realized as I sat down to re-watch Blade Runner (in anticipation of seeing Blade Runner 2049) that the original movie was shown before the review era and as such, I could in fact kill two replicants with one electric sheep.  We showed this film as the very first Viewer’s Choice way back in 2008, so it has been nine years since I’ve seen it.  I remember Padberg nominating it because of the recent release of the “Final Cut”, Ridley Scott‘s updated version of the Director’s Cut.  So, of course, no voiceover, and everything else is more or less the same except for a few added scenes and a revamp on the transfer and special effects.

So without any further ado…Blade Runner!

I know your secret, flying car!

But there IS a scroll text!  (There are Nexus 6 replicants, now declared illegal on Earth following a mutiny, “Blade Runner” units are tasked with hunting down and “retiring” any replicants on planet.)  And hey, the flying cars we get only two years and a month from now are awesome!  Even if their display screens are awful CRTs.

The Amateur

We start the film with Leon (hint: a replicant) being given an emotional response test (VK test) at Tyrell Corp.  He doesn’t really dig the test.  “My mother?  Let me tell you about my mother” he says, and shoots the tester (Mistretta from “Mitchell”!!) Han-Solo style from under the table.  Classic.

When catch a replicant with chopsticks you can, a Jedi you will be

As a result of this, Rick Deckard, Blade Runner, gets called in to track down four “skin jobs” – even though he doesn’t work for the police anymore.  Edward J. Olmos folds tiny origami.

The four replicants (from an original crew of 6) are trying to infiltrate Tyrell Corp for uncertain reasons.  These particular replicants were designed to have emotions – a dangerous innovation – so they were also designed to have a short four-year lifespan.

Thank you for (being) smoking

Deckard is sent to the Tyrell HQ, and he is first asked by the founder of the company (Tyrell, natch) to administer a VK test to his daughter Rachael, as a “negative control”.  Deckard determines, after a very long test, that she is in fact a replicant – though she does not know it.  Implanted memories, Tyrell explains, are the key to having better control over the replicants.  If they have false memories to convince them they are human, things go more smoothly.

Deckard is a replicant, Tigh is a Cylon, why can’t ANY of my friends have a real backstory?!?

Deckard investigates a scene where the replicants may have been and finds what turns out to be a locally-manufactured snake scale.  Edward James Olmos folds tiny origami.

While Leon and the replicant leader Roy Batty are torturing an ocular scientist, trying to get their way into Tyrell Corp, Rachael visits Deckard, who by reciting some of her childhood memories, convinces her she is a replicant.  She cries, because emotions.

batty and Batty

Meanwhile the skin jobs send off Pris (the “pleasure” model) to infiltrate J.F. Sebastian’s house – Sebastian being a Tyrell Corp genetic designer and the man who the ocular scientist suggested would help them to get into Tyrell.  All it really takes is a meet-cute and a few seductive looks and vulnerable smiles and she’s in Sebastian’s place – an abandoned building.

Deckard daydreams of a unicorn.

Following the clue of the artificial snake scale, Deckard tracks down the fourth replicant, Zhora, working as a performer at a burlesque club.  She realizes the game is up before Deckard catches on and gets the upper hand on him in her dressing room.  But her attempted strangulation is interrupted by another performer entering, resulting in a chase where Deckard kills Zhora, with lots of her running through pane glass and, somewhat unfortunately, in the sight of Leon.  Deckard is made.  Furthermore, he is notified that Rachael has bolted from Tyrell Corp, so he’s now supposed to be on her tail, too.

Leon catches Deckard in an alley and, disarming him and again with the upper hand utters the infamous, “Wake up.  Time to die.” before Rachael catches him from behind with a head shot from Deckard’s gun.  Two down, two to go – if you don’t count Rachael.  Rachael follows Deckard back to his place, where she asks him if he has ever taken the VK test before their completely awkward and kinda rapey hookup.

Batty shows up to Sebastian’s place, and Sebastian catches on that they’re Nexus 6 before too long, and they cajole Sebastian, who suffers from Methuselah Syndrome (another victim of “accelerated decrepitude”) to get them into Tyrell Corp to talk to Tyrell.  Batty demands more life, but when Tyrell shoots down all of Batty’s ideas to get around his planned obsolescence, Batty kills him – and Sebastian, off-camera.

A pigeon just wouldn’t be as symbolic

When the police find Sebastian’s body with Tyrell’s, this leads Deckard to J.F.’s place, where Pris disguises herself as one of Sebastian’s robots.  Pris, again with the upper hand, gets Deckard into the old Brazilian wax headlock before foolishly deciding to finish him off with the floor routine somersault instead of just choking him out.  He shoots her.  Batty, comes in, discovers Pris dead, and just like the others gets the upper hand on Deckard.  For being the best Blade Runner there is, Deckard isn’t very good it seems.  Batty toys with Deckard, eventually getting him up to the roof of J.F.’s building, though it appears that Batty’s planned obsolescence is beginning to manifest itself.  After rescuing Deckard from a certainly fatal fall, Batty utters one of the most famous death orations ever:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.  All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.  Time to die.

So…Deckard is…Kristaps Porzingis?

With a gleam coming through the rain that looks dangerously like daylight, Edward James Olmos shows up. “It’s too bad she won’t live”, Edward James Olmos says, “But then again, who does?”  Deckard returns to his apartment to gather up Rachael and go on the run.  On their way out, Rachael steps on a tiny origami unicorn.  The end.

 

Above all else, Blade Runner is about ambience.  It’s all night, rain, and cigarette smoke.  Also, the Vangelis soundtrack is completely epic.  All full of sickening keyboard bends and sharp drum and cymbal strikes, it complements the film perfectly.  The plot itself is actually pretty simple – cop tracks down four replicants and kills them while protecting a fifth unrelated – but similarly replicant – party.  And of course, with the strong implication that the cop himself may also be a replicant.  But that’s about it.  It’s atmosphere, it’s ambience, it’s a moment captured in time like tears plucked from rain.  And it lives on.

I’m curious how Villeneuve is going to work the sequel.  If Deckard is a replicant, he must be a very good one – in fact of the same quality as Rachael, who can nearly pass the VK test.  He must be brand new.  Why have Tyrell and the authorities set him up on this mission and designed his escape with Rachael?  Because it has to be a set-up.  Either Deckard is human (which makes the story significantly less interesting, by the way) or he’s a very recent model, with memories even of being a Blade Runner implanted – which, by the way, might explain why he’s not very good at it, despite being “the best there is”.  Furthermore, Batty saves him.  Does Batty gather something?

But what we know, from the previews, is that 30 years later, Deckard is still alive.  And from IMDB – evidently so is Rachael.  Either their obsolescence was not planned like the Nexus 6, or they found a way around it.  Also – more Edward James Olmos.  So I’m guessing more origami.  Now I’m getting pretty darn geeked about this.

(Edit: Nice to be right about the set-up.  I suppose the Edward James Olmos cameo was always bound to be less than I hoped – and it was only memorable in an “Oh, there he is!” kind of way.  The Rachael cameo was more complicated.  Sean Young proper isn’t in the film – instead we see a newly-created Rachael lookalike with CGI that they don’t seem to want to have pushed the limits of.  But cameos aside, was I right to get geeked?  You’re damn straight I was.)