Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut

From the Chicago Reader (October 2, 1992). — J.R.


Far and away the best SF movie of the 80s, though a critical and commercial flop when it first appeared (1982), Ridley Scott’s visionary look at Los Angeles in the year 2019 — a singular blend of glitter and grime that captures both the horror and the allure of capitalism in the Reagan era with the claustrophobic textures of a Sternberg film — is back in a new version that more closely approximates the director’s original intentions, minus the offscreen narration and happy ending and with a few brief additions. Loosely adapted by David Webb Peoples (who later scripted Unforgiven) and Hampton Fancher from Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story mainly concerns the tracking down and killing of “replicants” (lifelike androids) by the hero (Harrison Ford), and much of the film’s erotic charge and moral and ideological ambiguity stems from the fact that these characters — Joe Turkel, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and Joanna Cassidy — are very nearly the only ones we care about. (We never know for sure whether Ford is a replicant himself, and one advantage to this version is that it makes this uncertainty more explicit.) Though some dysfunctional overlaps grow out of the grafting together of 40s hardboiled detective story and SF thriller, and the movie loses some force whenever violence takes over, this remains a truly extraordinary, densely imagined version of both the future and present, with a look and taste all its own. With Edward James Olmos and William J. Sanderson. (Fine Arts)


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