Movie Review – Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Does artificial intelligence have a soul? It’s challenging to give a elaborate analysis of symbolic denotation in this film when there are so many versions and so little time. This is why I decided to go over the final cut. It’s funny that Blade Runner manages to steal the number one slot on just about every “Top 100, 50, and 10 Science Fiction Films of All Time” lists. It’s a timeless classic. However, it didn’t start off that way. The film was bitch slapped by every major film critic in the world but ultimately became a cult phenomenon. It seems that Ridley Scott was aware of its imperfections and this is one of the many reasons why he kept tinkering with it. There are currently seven different versions of the film. The International Cut, Director’s Cut, and Final Cut being the most successful. It has also become one of the most debated films in the history of cinema thanks to Scott’s significant changes – One being the possibility of the main character, Deckard (Harrison Ford,) being a replicant. Ridley Scott swears that the leading man is a replicant and it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t from the get go. It’s quite clear that in the theatrical version he is NOT. All that tinkering and some additional footage, the main being Deckard dreaming of a unicorn, wasn’t added in until years later. Scott has done a magnificent job confusing nerds and sparking debates which also triggers them to watch the film over and over and over again.

Adapted from Phillip K. Dick’s short novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” I have not read the novel but I am told the film takes themes from the book but butchers the plot. In the novel, almost all of animal life has been completely wiped out.

Set in Los Angeles 2019, Richard Deckard (Harrison Ford aka Han Solo aka Indiana Jones aka) is a blade runner (bounty hunter) who has been summoned to retire (terminate) four Nexus-6 Replicants (androids that look like humans) that escaped  and invaded the Earth. The good thing is that they only have a four year lifespan. The bad thing is that they are completely indestructible and their main goal in their short life is to hunt down their father (Tyrell) and demand more life. The newest androids created by Tyrell Corporations are the hardest to detect. Deckard tries a test run on Rachel (Sean Young,) another Nexus-6, and this model is almost unidentifiable. You find yourself feeling for these replicants and wanting them to live longer. All they want is more life but they are unpredictable and they have no place on Earth. Four years is not a lot of time.

The machine they use to detect whether or not they are Replicants is called “Voight-Kampff.” It measures body functions like their eye movement, heart rate, etc… to emotional provocative questions. Just don’t ever ask the potential replicates about their mothers.

One of the most interesting aspects of BR would be decaying city of LA with all the less prominent living at the bottom like a few other films have shown, such as Dark City and Total Recall. Humans are moving onto Mars and other planets meanwhile, those left behind are living in abandoned skyscrapers.

Roger Ebert, who I have always looked up to, admits to not liking Blade Runner in the beginning due to his own taste and lack of imagination but after viewing a few more cuts of the film he has completely changed his mind. Then again, he says that if the film was perfect, why does Ridley Scott keep tinkering with the film? Make no mistake about it, Ridley Scott is a visual genius. I strongly disliked his directors cut of Legend but I will save that for another day. Today however, I am impressed with his re-visualization of Blade Runner. Even if it took him several tries. If you’re a Scott fan like me, you will also agree. Alien, Legend, Thelma & Louise, G.I. Jane, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Matchstick Men, and Prometheus were masterpieces along with Blade Runner.

The soundtrack was composed by Vangelis. The dark classical composition and synthesizers fit nicely with the futuristic tone for the film. My favorite would have to be the End Title. Less favorite, the Love Theme. I guess I have never been a fan of the Saxophone. There’s a three-disc-set for the soundtrack available. Disc one is a re-mastering of the 1994 Vangelis soundtrack. Disc two includes outtakes from the workprint including the opening Prologue. Disc three includes commentaries.

The protagonist, Deckard, is played by Harrison Ford who has very little emotion in this film. He’s one of my favorite actors but in Blade Runner, his emotions are absent. Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role which would have been odd. He’s just not the macho type. Can you imagine Dorothy Michaels taking over as Deckard? “I said good day Dr. Bruster!” Several other actors were also considered for the part; Burt Retnolds, Raul Julia, Robert Duvall, Nick Nolte, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Sean Connery, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gene Hackman. There’s a version with narration and for years it was rumored that Ford intentionally performed the voice-over poorly but in an interview with Playboy Magazine he states, “I delivered it to the best of my ability, given that I had no input. I never thought they’d use it. But I didn’t try and sandbag it. It was simply bad narration.”

Edward James Olmos plays one of the strangest characters in the film named Gaff. He’s a cop that speaks a mixture of Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Hungarian. He’s also quite fond of origami. The last sentence in the film is spoken by him and the dialogue is another topic for a heated debate amongst nerds, myself included. “It’s too bad she wont live. But then again, who does?” At least he was speaking English and not some cryptic ‘Cityspeak.’ 

Ridley Scott claims that Gaff doesn’t like Deckard and we don’t really know why.

Roy Batty, played by the magnificent Rutger Hauer, is the leader of the group of Nexus-6 and he’s described as the most intelligent, fast, and skilled replicant that was used as a combat model. Roy is having a hard time with his developing emotions but he’s unable to experience fear which is another reason why he is so hard to kill. “I’ve…seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attacks ship on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost…in time, like rain. Time…to die”  I get why he let Deckard live. Roy knows he is about to die and he’s all alone now that his pals have been retired. He was howling and running around in his underwear.  This always makes me laugh. “I want more life fucker.”

Rachael will always be my favorite replicant. There are theories that she is a Nexus 7 but she isn’t!  In the film they refer to her as a 6 in more than one occasion!  Sean Young did an amazing job with this portrayal and she’s easily one of the most beautiful women in film around this point in time. Rachael was designed after Tyrell’s niece, implanted with her memories. She strongly suggests she is human but she isn’t. Deckard finds her to be one of the hardest replicants to detect. “Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. More human than human is our motto.” We do not know how old she is but Tyrell knows that she is beginning to suspect that there’s a possibility she is a replicant and she is ignored by Tyrell after learning the truth about her existence. This is when she turns to Deckard and they fall in love. This is another reason why so many people do not want to believe Deckard is a replicant. A human and a replicant falling in love just seems more poetic. Deckard is ordered to retire Rachael but runs off with her instead.  “Should I screw her or not?”

Leon Kowalski is the least interesting replicant in my opinion. He actually looks like a child molester in my eyes. Seriously, the guy just gives me the creeps. I will say this about him though, he likes photography. The actor Brion James took on the role as Leon and he has a lengthy resume but I cannot say I actually remember him in anything else.

Now onto Pris and Sebastian. I have never and will most likely never be a Daryl Hannah fan. I have never been attracted to her. Okay, I will admit that I liked her in Kill Bill but still took pleasure in seeing her get her ass kicked by Uma Thurman. Debbie Harry was the original choice to play Pris. I wonder what that would have been like. Any who, Pris is my second favorite replicant. She’s a gymnast cyber-punk that doesn’t seem to feel any pain at all as we see her grab a boiling egg with her bare hand. It appears that she is Roy’s girlfriend and was created on Valentine’s Day as a basic pleasure model. According to the film’s trivia, her birthday is February 14th, 2016 which means she didn’t have much longer to live. In the novel Blade Runner 2 they mention that she was an insane human that believed she was a replicant. Boy, all these different stories and conspiracy theories are making my head hurt. It’s pretty obvious she is a replicant. 

Sebastian is played by John R. Isidoe who I remember as the troubled Sheriff in True Blood. Sebastian is such an interesting character. The only reason why he is still living on Earth in an abandoned skyscraper is because of his medical condition known as “Methuselah Syndrome” which means accelerated aging. He is only 25 but looks to be about 45. This gives him something in common with the Nexus 6. He’s a genetic designer for the Tyrell corporation and even makes his own toys/friends. One of the toys looks to be a tiny person with a teddy bear head and the other has a gigantic Pinnoccio nose. It cannot seem to keep itself from running into walls. Even though he has something in common with the Nexus 6, he is sadly manipulated by them. Poor Sebastian.

Zhora, played by Joanna Cassidy, is equal to Pris. She has a pet snake and dances topless with her pet snake at Taffey’s Bar. She also has super-human endurance. My favorite scene would be when Deckard retires Zhora. The neon lights and glass shattering was a beautiful sight. I remember Joanna Cassidy from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead as Rose and Who Framed Rodger Rabbit as Dolores. I just now realized this is the same actor. She used her real snake, a Burmese python named Darling, in the film.

In the final cut, we can see Tyrell’s death in its entirety. I don’t know why they cut the blood out. It’s not that graphic. I am happy that they finally wrapped up what happened with Sebastian because I was confused at first. It’s apparent that he died anyway because of the call for the dead bodies. After Roy kills Tyrell, he walks up to Sebastian as Sebastian runs and says, “I’m sorry Sebastian. Come. Come.” Some altercations had been made with the dialogue due to mistakes made in the previous versions. There’s the scene where Deckard and his boss discuss six rogue replicants. His boss explained that one of the replicants got fried running through an electric field. Deckard only hunts down four of them, leaving the sixth to be a mystery. The dialogue was changed in this scene to fix this problem. Bryant explains that two were fried.

Deleted Scenes:

If you have the collectors edition, you’re probably well aware that it includes at least 30 minutes of footage that was shot but never show for various reasons. Some of these scenes include Holden in the hospital where he is critically injured and in an iron lung (In a Glass Cage anyone?) There’s a scene where Deckard and Gaff are investigating the replicates apartments and Leon is hanging on the ceiling the entire time. Leon also notices the origami left by Gaff. Apparently the stick figure left behind had a boner. I had to rematch to make sure but sure enough, that totally looks like a boner. Another deleted scene mentions Deckards ex wife. Boring Glad they left that out. We don’t need that padding. A scene I wish I could watch is when Deckard is washing his mouth out and he pulls a clump of blood and gunk out of his nose. This was right before Rachael and Deckard’s erotic love scene. We never get to se the two mid coitus but in this deleted scene we get passionate love making and Sean Young’s breasts. Goodie! I don’t know why they left this out. It’s like, if you are going to waste all of this time and footage showing a woman’s breasts, why wont you show them? You can see the footage anywhere online. Most of these scenes you can actually see online.

Random Thoughts:
So Deckard basically rapes Rachael right? It doesn’t seem to me like she had a choice. He threw her up against a window and in real life Sean Young was actually scared of Harrison Ford for doing this. During this scene I was actually thinking, “OMG RAPE!”

Why does the futuristic LA look like Tokyo?

Why would you invite a stranger sleeping in the garbage into your home? What did you learn from this?

Wait, did she just turn her head around 180 degrees?

That’s the coolest owl I have ever seen. The snake that Zhora uses is even a replicant. She says she couldn’t afford a real snake. Reminder, the majority of animals have been wiped out of existence. So what do they eat?

Some question if the Nexus 6 were sent to kill the Nexus 7, which would be Harrison Ford, Deckard. This doesn’t make any since because Roy, a Nexus 6, has made it clear that they came to Earth to make moderations to their doomed life cycle. Why wouldn’t Zhora try to kill Deckard instead of running from him? This further proves my point that Deckard isn’t a Nexus 6 or 7. He gets his ass royally kicked throughout the film. I’ve heard all the ‘more human than human’ arguments and YES Scott now says he was a replicant now but like I stated above, that obviously wasn’t so from the get go Mr. Scott, was it? You can’t just have an epiphany and play games with our hearts! It also ruins the entire story for me. I prefer the idea of a human falling in love with a replicant.

To read about all the different versions of this film in its entirety, you can simply go here and have fun.

On a final note, its production design, premise, cinematography, dialogue, and fine acting make Blade Runner work. I’ve seen so many reviewers have negative responses but as they watch the film over and over again, myself included, it grows on you. Even though I strongly dislike the idea of Deckard being a replicant, I prefer the final cut. The picture quality and audio has been enhanced magnificently. Blade Runner is a science fiction master piece and its reputation and influence on other science fiction films is beyond doubt. I strongly believe this is possibly the greatest film ever made. Some prefer the narration and some do not. Then there are those that think Deckard is  a replicant and those that believe he is not. There are far too many layers to peel and too many open topics to discuss