Blade Runner is a hugely influential film, and for a very good reason. Its vision of the big, rain-drenched, corporate-owned city is still just a stunning now as it was 30 years ago. Its storyline is probably the most profound out of all classical sci-fi, with the possible exception of Gattaca. The central drive for the narrative is the question of what it means to be human, omnipresent throughout the film but most pointed in scenes with Rachel. However, a number of other films (like IRobot
) also deal with that question. What makes Blade Runner truly great are the other themes it addresses, be it the morality of creating sentient beings for ulterior purposes and with no chance to define their own life or the nigh-universal desire for longevity and struggle to come terms with death, brilliantly embodied by Ronald Batty and all his monologues. Nearly every scene in the film is loaded with questions like these, both implicit and explicit. Needless to say, those themes would never strike home with inferior actors, and all of them are brilliant, as is soundtrack and Ridley Scott’s cinematography.
Of course, the film does have its downsides. Most of the dedicated action scenes are rather sub-par. The final battle with Batty in an abandoned apartment block is an exception, brilliantly filmed and soaked with tension. It is no coincidence that this is only scene where Harrison Ford’s Deckard attacks first. In all other scenes, Deckard is a supposed expert Replicant killer who always manages to get ambushed by them get his ass kicked in rather predictable ways. This is especially apparent in the scenes with Zhora, whose character gets no distinct lines and seems to be present mainly for Fanservice.
The greatest weakness of the film, however, is the final twist, which establishes Deckard as a Replicant, and Ridley Scott goes to confirm this as well. It significantly blunts what is otherwise a chillingly ambiguous ending: if they kept the origami figure but removed the unicorn dream and perhaps added a line or two about Deckard intending to test himself, we would be left with true uncertainty about the future of Rachel and Deckard, forced to question every action that happened in the film and decide for ourselves. Thanks to the twist, we now know they’re both Replicants and will be dead soon, which significantly curbs the mystery.