When Ridley Scott's Blade Runner was released in 1982, audiences weren't the only ones who rejected it. Critics, for the most part, praised its intricately grungy, medieval-technolopolis look yet sniped at the movie for its thin story line and overwrought moodiness, and for Harrison Ford's ersatz-Philip Marlowe narration, which only served to emphasize how little was going on. In the new director's cut, there are a few nips and tucks in the editing. The main change, though, is the elimination of that pesky narration. Now maybe audiences and critics alike can discover what a few have been saying for years that Blade Runner is a singular and enthralling experience. Never mind the plot. From its spectacular opening shot, a hellishly beautiful vision of 21st-century Los Angeles, the movie casts a druggy, hypnotic spell.
In the year 2019, Deckard (Harrison Ford), a professional android assassin (or blade runner), is assigned to hunt down four lethal replicants who have arrived in Los Angeles from an off-world colony. One by one, he well, hunts them down. Here, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the most stirring character isn't a person but a robot Rutger Hauer's haughty, platinum-blond replicant, who, like HAL, is willing to kill only because he so desperately wants to live.
The secret of Blade Runner is that Scott's fantastically baroque, future-shock imagery, all dark decay and techno-clutter, effectively becomes the story. As the layers of mood and detail settle in, the very process by which we watch the film scanning those shimmering, claustrophobic frames for signs of life turns into a running metaphor for what Blade Runner is about: a world in which humanity has been snuffed by ''progress.'' This is perhaps the only science-fiction film that can be called transcendental. A-More Sci-Fi Movies