This classic from early 80s cinema is one of the few films from the era that shows almost no signs of ageing. The visuals are still breathtaking, the downbeat performances and dystopian tone are still in place and above all the director’s ideas still brim with ingenuity and bravado. If this is coming across as a glowing recommendation then you’re spot on, and if you haven’t yet seen the film on the big screen then its an order… you must watch this!
Harrison Ford plays Deckard a retired "blade runner" who is assigned to track down and terminate replicants from one of Earth’s outposts. Replicants are man-made androids that have a short shelf life and almost perfect human emotions — including the desire for life. When a small group of deadly replicants begin a murderous rampage trying to find the answer to everlasting life, Deckard is called in to track them down. The rogue element is lead by Roy Batty (a never better Hauer) who finds his "maker", but desperately evades the dogged officer on his tail. Deckards own judgement is clouded when he meets and falls for an innocent creation by the name of Rachel, which leads him to ask serious questions of himself.
From the opening shot of an industrial cityscape collapsing under commercial constraints the sheer sense of scale is there for all to see. It is arguably better than the often-feted Star Wars opening shot, and on the big screen it still looks flawless. Despite the advancements in technology and special effects techniques this is still the most impressive sequence I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the film consistently hits these high marks. One of the film's trump cards is to get the instantly recognisable Ford to seem distant and unfamiliar. Of course this is essential, given Blade Runner's most debated plot twist, but it still makes an impression on even the most casual viewer that this is something the actor has never quite achieved since. Hauer is also imperious as the brutal yet intelligent "man" on a mission.
"The Final Cut" as it is billed may not be much different to the versions you are already familiar with. Sure there are some tweaks here and there (notably the dreary voice-over is gone as is the preposterous neat ending) but the main change here is the cleaning of the print. The film and the myths that have built up around it are movie folklore now from the notoriously difficult shoot (Ford seems genuinely grumpy throughout) to the head-scratching fact that at one point Dustin Hoffman was all set to take the lead role! But this is one that you cannot miss.