Blade Runner (1982)

on June 25, 1982 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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Director Ridley Scott, noted for his elaborate production design on "Alien," again brings to the screen a brilliantly conceived view of the future that falters only when a weak screenplay gets in the way.
Thanks to special effects wizards Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer, "Bade Runner" is a mesmerizing peek into the near future. Set in a horribly polluted Los Angeles teeming with street urchins, the story serves as a device to explore this neon nightmare that is Ridley Scott's vision of things to come.
Harrison Ford stars as Deckard, a dogeared cop straight out of the pages of Raymond Chandler. Recently retired from his position as a "blade runner," a sort of bounty hunter, Deckard is called into a particularly sticky case by his old boss, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh).
As a blade runner, Deckard must hunt down androids called "replicants," genetically-pioneered robots with human appearance and superhuman abilities who have been designed to explore other worlds and build colonies in space.
A group of replicants led by Batty (Rutger Hauer) have rebelled against their four-year lifespan and fled to Earth to find the key to immortality.
Just as Deckard finds their trail, his sentiments are shifted by his romantic involvement with Rachel (Sean Young), a beautiful replicant who has been equipped with emotions and an artificial set of memories by her creator, corporate tycoon Tyrell (Joe Turkel).
Hunting the escapees down in the crowded streets of a futuristic slum crawling with strange inhabitants, Deckard finally locates his prey and kills all of the replicants except Batty.
Trained to excel in combat, Batty uses his intelligence and strength to turn the tables on Deckard. In a climactic chase across slippery rooftops, Batty traps Deckard only to spare the human's life. Crushed by the knowledge that he will never be a human himself, Batty allows his own time span to run out.
Although handicapped by a script that takes a bit too much from the detective films of the late 1940's, director Scott makes each scene count visually. Science fiction fans will revel in the complexities of Lawrence G. Paul's elaborate production design, a wondrous maze of steam and slime that obviously has Scott's stamp on it.
Syd Mead, listed as a "visual futurist" in the film's credits, contributes the design of some fascinating aircars and other marvels. Composer Vangelis, last year's Oscar winner for "Chariots of Fire," adds depth and feeling to a cold, depressing storyline with an emotionally compelling score. Other craftsmen, notably cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and costume designers Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, also shine.
Scott fares much better with scenery than actors. Harrison Ford, though a competent leading man, is reduced to a one-dimensional gumshoe clone who spends more time explaining the story via voiceovers than he does taking action. Sean Young's romance with Ford is chopped up and put aside in favor of Ford's chase scenes, killing the film's only interesting dramatic relationship. Young herself is kept at emotional bay throughout, diminishing what promised to be a memorable role.
Weaknesses aside, "Blade Runner" is a stunning piece of work. Though Scott's view of the future is a cynical one, his dedication to bringing that vision to life is artistry itself. Audiences should enjoy his rich images. A downbeat film in a summer of fantasy and song, this Ladd Company release should nonetheless succeed on its own merits.
David Linck Warner Bros. 114 mins.
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