Blade Runner (1982) — Final Cut Movie Review

Colton Royle
6 min readMar 21, 2023

I write reviews based on four categories: Coherence, Intensity of Effect, Complexity, and Originality, each based on a score of 1 to 5. The total score is averaged out of these parts.

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Blade Runner is one of the most influential science fiction movies of all time. When watching this film in comparison to its sequel, Blade Runner 2049, I noticed some interesting similarities and differences that I think might be worth exploring in an analysis. First, however, we had better start with a sort of baseline review for either so we know where we stand.


Blade Runner’s larger coherence is embedded more in its design than its narrative. Across all the rewrites and double-digit takes by Scott, some mistakes or logical errors were bound to occur. Even in the Final Cut, released in 2007, we can see a sort of narrative problem after Deckard shoots Zhora, where he informs Bryant that there are three replicants left, something that Bryant informed him of to begin the narrative. Of course, mistakes like Zhora’s stunt double have been talked about to death, so I wont trouble you here. The combination of noir story and science fiction produces some fascinating ambiguities, more notably Deckard’s interrogation with his own identity as either a replicant or a human, as well as his sexual encounter with Rachael, which, while being stilted and favoring a noir-ish aggression from Deckard, has some implications for the narrative. Much of the script favors internal questions of identity, even when agency in identity is challenged, like when Batty confronts Hannibal and JF Sebastian. There is a great deal of time given over to eyes in the film, a leitmotif that serves to explore identity visually in an explicit way, while much of the film is of course an implicit interrogation of vision and seeing. All in all a fairly coherent film that has been mired in different tastes for the final product, either in the theatrical, director’s, or Final Cut, which imply certain insecurities in its construction. I think a 3 out of 5 fits.

Intensity of Effect

Some aspects of the film are still spellbinding, particularly the emphasis on density in the outdoor backlot scenes. Filled with smoke, rain, and people, these scenes feel difficult to pull off in a modern filmmaking context. No mainline actor or extra would be comfortable put into the contexts they were put in back in 1982, like the prospect of choking on carbon monoxide in a frozen icebox. But this commitment to detail lets the movie take on a strange life of its own. It is not perfect in a modern context, where the added resolution of the film in 4k or 1080p can sometimes make props or sets feel lifeless or cheap. The first Voidt Kampf test with Leon comes to mind. Deckard shooting Zhora, and her breaking through various panes of glass, is magnificent in slow-motion. JF Sebastion’s apartment is haunting, with mannequins and directional lighting from airships up above. Deckard’s final fight with Roy Batty has strong and evocative visuals, and we all know how potent Rutger Hauer’s delivery is for his final monologue. Edward James Olmos’s role as an illusive city-speaking man in a hat adds a sense of mystery, weight, and ominous dread that, though a minor role, seems essential in hindsight. An obvious weakness of the film is the romance between Deckard and Rachael, which stems from a lack of chemistry between the characters, but this may be a subjective opinion, because there is something to be gained from Sean Young as a replicant being unwilling to form new memories of this kind with Deckard, or not knowing how. Compared to other science fiction films, Blade Runner stands tall, often for what it leaves out rather than leaves in. It suggests many readings and musings from the viewer without outright saying it. One example of this I always remember is the difference for Rachael between having the memory and knowledge of the piano vs. playing the piano beautifully in the present time. This certainly speaks towards identity, towards time, and to memory, and how that all factors into who we are. I’m confident giving the film a 4 out of 5.


No one need debate all that hard about Blade Runner’s complexity. For science fiction, we may have the adventurous Star Wars, but Blade Runner is the harder drug. It is the path towards ideas and deep thought. The design of Blade Runner feels so authentic because those who worked on it artistically had previous work in commercial and industrial businesses, and brought with them a rigorous understanding not just of a speculative aesthetic, but also of why functionally those items might work like that. Human beings have never been very good at predicting the future, so flying cars in 2019 of course was a stretch then, and it’s a stretch now, but the movie manages to contain these elements, this “retrofitting” of past and future, while still looking unified and coherent. And this has effects on how we think about identity in the characterization of our replicants as well as our humans. Blade Runner asks the central question of science fiction, which is how we know who we are? And how does the outside world, no matter is strangeness, its alienation, contribute to who we are? Ridley Scott is one of those few directors who manage to align sight and sound to a grander thematic picture in a way few can. For example, most people have an implicit awareness of Alien and its ideas of sex, rape, and childbirth, without having to consult an online article. And most college students have an idea of the psychoanalytic features of jouissance in Alien without having to read Lacan or Zizek. The movie conveys this in “atmosphere.” The same goes for Blade Runner, a movie that is bristling with confidence about why it shows what it shows. A 5 out of 5 for complexity is obvious.


Blade Runner is a combination of science fiction and noir, showcased in a way few had seen before. It’s picture of the future was bleak. The world was wet, crowded, dirty, and artificial. Much of the world was dedicated to whatever pleasure it had left, siphoned of the love and care that was supposed to come with it. It is hard to imagine a director leading the hand of the producers like Scott did back then. From what I can gather of modern filmmaking, producers have commandeered the major films of the era and dictate their requirements. And even in those final moments, Scott peremptorily lost with the inclusion of voice over by Harrison Ford and a conventional ending. It took years for the film to obtain its true form, which is not something that happens for films either. Beyond form, Blade Runner has authentic content as well, with design and stories that would be emulated by prospective directors in the decades to come. And Roy Batty’s “tears in rain” monologue transcends the genre into a dramatic work of its own. I think a 5 out of 5 works here as well.

A 4.25 out of 5 establishes Blade Runner certainly as a top choice for any science fiction lover. For lay viewers, the choice to watch will ultimately come down to the viewer’s desire for history. At 40 years old, despite its resonance with me, many contemporary viewers might find the culture of the 80s to be too wound up in the movie. The saxophone, the big hair, Harrison manhandling Sean Young. Even in the strangeness of science fiction, the 80s abounds. So any viewer will likely have to decide for themselves what wins out. I think Blade Runner is fantastic, especially in its 2007 Final Cut form.



Colton Royle

Colton tries to picture a world in which nobody trusted their System 1 thinking. He is currently working on trying to be a better listener.