Ridley Scott's definitive Blade Runner: The Final Cut little short of a masterpiece


Harrison Ford and Sean Young in Blade Runner
Ralph McLean

AS THE world goes weak at the knees, and rightly so, for Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited follow-up to Ridley Scott’s much beloved original science fiction game changer, it’s worth rewinding 35 years and remembering that first offering in all its dystopian glory.

In actual fact I’m only asking you to rewind a couple of years since the version of Blade Runner I’d like you recall is The Final Cut, a Scott-endorsed reassembly of the film that hit cinema screens in 2015.

A much bleaker but altogether richer and more cinematically rewarding experience than the somewhat compromised 1982 original cut, this is the version that seems to me the fullest exploration of Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Some may sneer at this suggestion and pine for the old-school film noir voice over and that oddly tacked on happy ending (two things apparently forced on Scott at the time) but they, dear reader, are wrong and this is the only version you need to see.

If you want to see the dark and seedy side of the neon-soaked streets that hardcore capitalism is driving us all inexorably towards, then this is the film for you. LA twinkles and buzzes like never before and as cyberpunk movies go Blade Runner: The Final Cut delivers a damning indictment of a future world where humanity has well and truly hit the moral canvas.

A fully immersive viewing experience, it is a truly stunning slice of big screen sci-fi and Ridley Scott’s finest shot at cinematic genius.

Set in 2019 – to be fair that must have seemed like an eternity away in 1982 – and starring the forever weary Harrison Ford as the detective Deckard who tracks down replicants, or androids, who’ve escaped from their space prisons to attempt to blend back in with mankind on planet Earth, it’s a proper, fully primed sci-fi epic and a massively downbeat study of a corporate world left to run riot. It’s a film that’s steeped in that nihilistic “we’re all doomed” aesthetic that the 1980s loved so much.

With the character of Deckard, Ford essays one of his most iconic roles, in a career loaded with more iconic characters than most, and in the figure of replicant Roy Batty, Rutgar Hauer gives us one of the most unpredictable and downright dangerous screen “monsters” in fantasy film history.

Black of heart like the finest Raymond Chandler fiction and just about every 40s crime flick worth its salt, Blade Runner is a twisty, slippery beast that almost demands repeat viewings.

The real star, oddly enough, is that neon lit, rain drenched backdrop of LA. Scott originally envisioned shooting in Hong Kong but financial restraints saw his vision reigned into the back lots of Warner Brothers in California. The effect is stunning.

With that old upbeat ending jettisoned this is dystopian film making at its most enthralling. As dark and delicious sci-fi goes Blade Runner: The Final Cut is little short of a masterpiece.

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