When Ridley Scott's cut of Blade Runner was finally released in 1993, one had to wonder why the studio hadn't done it right the first time--11 years earlier. This version is so much better, mostly because of what's been eliminated (the ludicrous and redundant voice-over narration and the phoney happy ending) rather than what's been added (a bit more character development and a brief unicorn dream). Star Harrison Ford originally recorded the narration under duress at the insistence of Warner Bros. executives who thought the story needed further "explanation";... he later confessed that he thought if he did it badly they wouldn't use it. (Moral: Never overestimate the taste of movie executives.) The movie's spectacular futuristic vision of Los Angeles--a perpetually dark and rainy metropolis that's the nightmare antithesis of "Sunny Southern California"--is still its most seductive feature, another worldly atmosphere in which you can immerse yourself. The movie's shadowy visual style, along with its classic private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a murderous android, or "replicant"), makes Blade Runner one of the few science fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And, as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and the people he encounters) than he anticipates. The cast also includes Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah Rutger Hauer and M. Emmet Walsh. --Jim Emerson [show more]
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