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  Blade Runner
Ridley Scott, USA, 1982
Rating 5.0 (Get the bumblebee outfit)

Posted: January 18, 2003

To quote the immortal Stevie Nicks: Stand Back! Here comes Clemenza's first 5.0 review! Blade Runner is a masterpiece of 20th century cinema, combining elements of film noir, sci-fi and action with a top-notch, out-of-the ballpark performance by Rutger Hauer. Harrison Ford is Rick Deckard, a retired cop assigned to track down and "retire" some dangerous off-world androids known as replicants. As in many futuristic tales, our protagonist is required, for some strange reason, to walk around in an overcoat at all times. When I first saw this film I told a friend, "In the future, we all need overcoats." The reply to that observation stays with me to this day: "I think we need them now, we just don't know it yet." That's deep.

But there's much deeper insight to be had in this cult classic genre collision of a film. The setting is Los Angeles in the year 2019. It's constantly raining and huge industrial complexes spew forth toxic smoke into the black sky. Against this backdrop, a group of replicants has hijacked a transport and returned to Earth. This is a big deal in the future; there's a whole division of law enforcement devoted to dealing with renegade replicants, and Deckard himself was one of these "blade runners" before he retired. (Before the film's original release, there was some debate as to whether Deckard himself is a replicant. Director Ridley Scott has definitively answered this question, and no, I won't tell you how; you'll have to figure it out for yourself.) Anyway, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the leader of the rebel replicants, is seeking the answers to some pretty human questions. Where did I come from? How long will I live? Replicants, you see, are programmed with built-in four-year lifespans, the better to endure hazardous missions on behalf of futuristic corporations. So there are some high-falutin' issues of free will, subjugation and self-determination at play here.

But before this turns into a full blown Laurence Station review, let me refocus my energies. Blade Runner may be a stylish, well-acted and fully-realized futuristic crime caper, but it achieves genius status thanks to journeyman B-movie actor Rutger Hauer. Few actors have captured the "maniacal groove" like Hauer -- that bald hillbilly guy from The Hills Have Eyes comes close, but he's not in Hauer's league. I once said that if you could say the word Boogens without smiling, you were a soulless wretch. To that I add, if you can watch the final scenes of Blade Runner without marveling at the genius of Hauer's performance as a replicant trying to "beat the clock", then you are a cold, dispirited shell of a human. In the film's pivotal scene, a rain-soaked Batty, clad in futuristic bicycle shorts, sits atop a building cradling a dove as he comes to terms with his own demise. What better way to end this review, and to justify its richly deserved 5.0 rating, than to share Batty's final words:

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die."

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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