Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut

Far and away the best SF movie of the 80s, Ridley Scott’s visionary look at Los Angeles in the year 2019a singular blend of grime and glitter that captures both the horror and the allure of Reagan-era capitalism with the claustrophobic textures of a Sternberg filmwas a critical and commercial flop when it first appeared (1982). Loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film follows the hero (Harrison Ford) as he tracks down and kills replicants, or androids. Much of the film’s erotic charge and moral and ideological ambiguity stems from the fact that these characters are very nearly the only ones we care about. (We never know for sure whether the hero is a replicant himself; in the director’s cut version that uncertainty is even greater.) The grafting of 40s hard-boiled detective story with SF thriller creates some dysfunctional overlaps, and the movie loses some force whenever violence takes over, yet this remains a truly extraordinary, densely imagined version of both the future and the present, with a look and taste all its own. With Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Joe Turkel, and William J. Sanderson. R, 112 min. (JR)

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