Blade Runner (1982)

One of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, this is a masterpiece of mood setting, existential themes and unforgettable images.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review #1,000

Dir. Ridley Scott
1982 | USA | Sci-Fi/Drama/Thriller | 117 mins | 2.39:1 | English & other languages

NC16 (passed clean) for violence and brief nudity

Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah
Plot: A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Awards: Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects
Distributor: Warner

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Existence; Mortality; Humanness
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: Blu-ray
First Published: 13 Feb 2014
Spoilers: No

This is my favourite science-fiction film after Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).  It is also my favourite Ridley Scott picture.  He hasn’t done a better picture since, and along with Alien (1979), Blade Runner is without any doubt a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. 

It is a masterpiece of mood-setting, existential themes and unforgettable images.  Not well-appreciated when it was first released in the early 1980s during arguably the highest peak of sci-fi cinema, Scott’s film was generally a failure commercially and critically. 

Time had the final word on Blade Runner, and in retrospect, it is only fitting for a film that is very much an amalgamation of all that involves time, particularly, memory and the postmodern.

Harrison Ford, perhaps the most famous Hollywood star at the time with Star Wars (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), plays a blade runner whose job is to execute, or “retire” replicants. 

Replicants look human, but they are created by men and sent to space to do risky jobs like colonizing other planets.  Several replicants mutiny and flee to Earth, and Ford’s character has to terminate them. 

Blade Runner is of course set in the (now near) future, one that has been hauntingly envisioned, characterized by a noirish, postmodernist look and feel. 

“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it?  That’s what it is to be a slave.”

The film is rich in its depiction of themes of consumerism, capitalism, evolution, and existentialism.  It not only explores what makes us humans, but also what it means to be human.

The performances are spot-on, with Rutger Hauer’s iconic interpretation of the film’s main ‘villain’ one of the genre’s most memorable roles.  His final lines in the movie hold the key to unlocking the film’s philosophical roots.  The cinematography, visual effects and art direction are all perfect. 

But what’s more than perfect, and so eternally fascinating is Vangelis’ electronic score to the picture.  He creates an otherworldly experience, and the score integrates with the sound design of the film so well that it’s impossible to ignore the importance of music and sound in this picture. 

Vangelis’ work here is very, very critical, and in my view, his greatest work for film, even over his more famous theme to Chariots of Fire (1981).

Blade Runner has had many editions.  I personally like the ‘Director’s Cut’ and the ‘Final Cut’, and strongly recommend you to watch either one.  If you haven’t seen Blade Runner, you owe yourself to see it.  If you can’t grasp its greatness… then watch it again and again and again.

Grade: A+




  1. […] 1982’s Blade Runner was one of the formative films that sparked my love for cinema 12 years ago.  Such is its impact on my life that I regard it as a religious artefact, the kind of film whose philosophy one could forever glean from, telling us all that is about the world—our fears and desires acutely transplanted into an alternative dystopian universe.  Every viewing promises something profound, and Vangelis’ score—my word, the sounds emanating from the Zeus of electronic music—is transcendental.  It is with this reverence for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece that I tread, with some trepidation, onto the waters of this new sequel.Blade Runner 2049 is lensed by Roger Deakins, who MUST win his first Oscar for Best Cinematography (after lucking out 13 times in his career), and directed by Denis Villeneuve, one of the most exciting filmmakers working today, and whom judging by his recent slate of works, including Prisoners (2013) and Arrival (2016), two of the finest films of their respective years, is surely on the stairway to Hollywood heaven, where such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan exist.  Ryan Gosling stars as K, a blade runner whose task is to ‘retire’ old, rebellious replicants.  With a runtime of 164 minutes (by the way, the Singapore version is censored—the person who made the decision to screen the censored version when the uncut version at M18 is available is an asshole), you would expect K to make discoveries that would question the nature of the world he is operating in, and his very own existence. […]



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